From Middle East to Bible Belt: One Ex-Muslim's Journey

There aren't many who can do what Don Teague did.

A few years ago, the former Baghdad correspondent for NBC and devout Christian brought over to the United States a young Iraqi Muslim he had known for only a month.

Not only that, he also made her a part of his family.

"God has something in mind for Rafraf, and it wasn't for her to die at the hands of Iraqi insurgents," Teague recalls thinking.

It was at NBC's Baghdad bureau that Teague first met Rafraf Barrak, who – at the age of 22 – was hired in the summer of 2003 to be the news bureau's youngest translator.

Teague was only scheduled to work for one month in Baghdad before returning home to his wife and two daughters in Atlanta.

But after surviving several near-death experiences – the defining moment being the bombing of a newly built school for children –Teague forged a special bond with Barrak, whose strong will, intelligence and beauty caused her many problems in Iraq's conservative Muslim society, including being locked in a sweltering storage room for four months after being seen eating lunch with a boy at school.

Though Barrak's independent nature and go-get-it attitude were highly valued at the NBC bureau, they were also among the qualities Teague felt would eventually get her killed, whether by bomb blast or at the hands of extremists who hated her for helping westerners.

Before it was time for Teague to return to the United States, he shared with his wife back home his concerns for the young and ambitious translator, who did not conform to the social norms expected of Muslim women in Iraq.

"Suddenly, I realized why I was in Baghdad," Teague wrote in his new book, Saved by Her Enemy, released this month. "My purpose is to get Rafraf out!"

His wife, Kiki, agreed, though she cautioned him to be careful.

"We don't really know anything about her," said Kiki. "If you think God is telling you to do this, then the answer is yes. If we can really help her, then I'm all for it. But we just need to be careful."

After a string of bureaucratic roadblocks, Barrak finally was able to leave for the United States. But between the time Teague left and Barrak received her permission, she was the victim of a kidnapping attempt – in which she had to escape by jumping out of a moving vehicle and on to a busy highway – and she was caught in the middle of a cross-fire.

And when she landed in America, a whole new set of different problems emerged – mainly over what to do with so much freedom. Barrak stopped wearing her head scarf, began dating American guys she met on the Internet and at night class, and struggled to find a balance between her old world in Iraq and her new life in America.

Along the way she began attending a multiethnic church with the Teague family. Though the Teagues were clear about their Christian identity, they also made it clear to Barrak that she would be part of their family no matter what religion she followed.

After four years in the United States, during the summer of 2008, Barrak began having vivid and frightening dreams. In the dream she was being chased and she was running away from a house with the word sin written on it. A woman in the dream told her that she is dying and she needs to learn the Word of God. Barrak said she was trying quickly to learn the Word so she could cross the bridge to God, but she ended up dying in the dream.

"That was a powerful message from God to me," Barrak told The Christian Post in an interview. "I woke up and cried my eyes out. I thought, what else does He need to give me or what else does He need to do to show me that He has been in my life."

Barrak says she had been struggling with God for a long time because she could not comprehend the concept of a good God who is watching over her because of what she had grown up believing.

In one part of Saved by Her Enemy, Barrak tells Teague during one of their conversations about faith that Allah does not care about her and does not love her.

After the powerful dream, Barrak sincerely thought about its meaning and God's hand throughout her life. On Oct. 5, 2008, she was baptized.

"I realized that I don't need to be scared," Barrak recalled. "If I do trust this God who has helped me all these years, if I do trust Him, then I need not to be scared because He would be my protector and He would be my shield and I just need to trust in Him."

Although not mentioned in the book, Barrak said during the interview that her mother knows she is now a Christian. Initially, her mother was angry and disappointed and would not talk to her. But more recently the mother and daughter have been able to put aside their differences and talk.

"I've been praying over and over and over that one day God will just put it on her heart to speak to me again," the former Iraqi Muslim shared. "It happened. I am talking to them again. We are avoiding the religion discussion, but they still love me and I love them. And at the same time I gained God."

Barrak is currently pursuing her Masters degree at a university in Florida. Teague is now a CBS News correspondent and lives with his family in Texas.

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