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As a former Muslim, I believe in faith in the public square

Hedieh Mirahmadi
Courtesy of Hedieh Mirahmadi

When I first became a Christian, I looked forward to a quiet life, basking in the love and beauty of having met my Lord and Savior.

Since I spent most of my adult life deeply engrossed in political battles over one issue or another, and serving my country in ways that were quite dangerous, the prospect of serenity was quite appealing. It was not more than three months that went by before the Lord gave me the vision for my ministry so others could experience the redemptive power of Christ.

At first, I wanted to ignore the call and pretend I didn't hear it correctly. Starting a ministry and being public with my Christian faith meant I could be attacked or even physically harmed by Muslims seeking to impose the penalty of apostasy. It meant I was going back into battle. However, the Lord was relentless.

The inspirations came to me like a flood nearly every day, and then I heard the words, "Hedieh, you are battle-tested, combat-ready." It made me laugh out loud because it was so true. My whole life and career were preparing me for this new mission to spread the Gospel at a time when being a follower of Christ is increasingly under attack. 

I have lived and worked in places where I escaped the outbreak of civil war, was shot at in the marketplace, and nearly lost my toes from frostbite because the heating in our compound turned off.  The Lord took all the inner fortitude and discipline of my past and combined it with the courage and strength that comes from being in relationship with Him.

He was using it all so I can serve the Kingdom. Whether it is writing columns and doing radio interviews, or witnessing to my hairstylist and speaking out at a School Board meeting, my faith in Christ is at the forefront of all that I do.  I often remember the Scripture, "Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops," (Mathew 10:27).

Some would say my enthusiasm stems from being a relatively new Christian, but I beg to differ. I had the good fortune of listening to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at church last week, and he made it so clear why all Americans should think of our faith in this way.

Mr. Pompeo talked about being an openly devout Christian during his time as Secretary of State, and how it informed all he did.  Though being asked 'how does being a Christian impact your life?' often had a negative connotation, that was irrelevant to him.  He responds with conviction and recounts his words that are clearly meant to inspire us:

"[Our faith] impacts everything you do; it informs every action that you take. It impacts how you think about the world, how you interact with people, and every day in your work life. Our founders believed deeply this was right and that the capacity to exercise our religion freely was important, and it mattered. …My oath was to the nation, I raised my right hand and swore that I would support defend the American Constitution, but I knew that if I did that with the Lord in my heart, I'd be more successful at delivering on that very outcome."

Whether it was President Sisi in Egypt or Chairman Kim of North Korea, world leaders respected him for it, and there is nothing un-American or unbiblical about it. In his seminal speech in Cairo, he began the remarks saying, "I'm Mike Pompeo, and I'm an evangelical Christian." His speechwriters tried to remove it, but he insisted on keeping it in.  He knew it was essential not because he wanted to talk about Christianity in a Muslim nation, but he wanted them to understand that the believers of Christ wanted good things for people everywhere and that it's our responsibility to be faithful, no matter where we are. There is not one line that gets him more questions or comments about even to this day. Leaders of every faith, Christians, Jews, and Muslims worldwide, say they appreciated his honesty. They appreciated that he kept faith in the public square. They admired the discipline with which he practiced his faith. They appreciated his courage to talk about his values so they could better understand how our nations could work alongside each other to deliver better lives for people across the world.

Though some US officials criticized his openness, it never deterred him. Unfortunately, many government representatives wrongly interpret that the First Amendment prohibits talking about faith, but it does not. The freedom of religion is meant to protect the rights of people of all faiths to practice their religion without encroachment from the government. In my experience, it is a lack of religious conviction in our government officials that has led to disastrous policy decisions. I will never forget being in a closed-door meeting at the White House during the Obama Administration, where a small group of us was invited to address the President on "countering violent extremism." After nearly an hour of our passionate pleas and recommendations for stricter policies towards state sponsors of terrorism and other stringent measures, the President says he didn't "get religion" and would not let people drag him into a war over it. Quite frankly, this sentiment explains why he did virtually nothing about the explosion of violence in the Middle East during his tenure. Suppose many of our senior US diplomats cannot appreciate the impact religion has on the way people live their lives and determine their priorities. How then can we properly represent our country as a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values?

Secretary Pompeo went on to say, "There's no separation between faith and country because God governs in the affairs of men. Our success depends on virtuous people. Wherever that is— volunteering in the parking lot at church or serving in government. Our faith should form our character and inform our opinions."

Being a Christian should be part of whatever we do. It's not proselytizing; it is a belief that whatever religion someone believes in, they should be allowed to practice it freely. Hopefully, they will find the power of Christ revealed to them.   If our faith is not public and visible, how can we call others to faith in Christ? It is not just about being a good person.

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)

I am eternally grateful for receiving salvation after practicing Islam freely in the US for decades.  I also cherish the freedom to share my new faith with others. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, forit is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes," (Romans 1:16).

Hedieh Mirahmadi was a devout Muslim for two decades working in the field of national security before she experienced the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and has a new passion for sharing the Gospel.  She dedicates herself full-time to Resurrect Ministry, an online resource that harnesses the power of the Internet to make salvation through Christ available to people of all nations, and her daily podcast LivingFearlessDevotional.com.

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