Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
IRVINE, CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- After she came to Christ, her Muslim father told her she was ‘dead’ from that moment and she was never to grace the doorway of his home. But despite her father’s rejection, she found a new and living way to blessing from the Father of Lights.
Sophia Marsh-Ochsner, the daughter of a Muslim Pakistani father and a Roman Catholic mother grew up in the industrial heartland of West Yorkshire, England. Before her parents married, Sophia’s mother accepted her fiancee’s strict requirement that their children be raised under Islam.
“She assumed that some faith is better than no faith,” Sophia recalls. “She assumed we all believe in the same God.”
Sophia’s mother was not allowed to mention Jesus or practice her faith inside the home.
Sophia did her best to straddle two cultures. Raised under the tenets and pillars of Islam, she also wanted to adapt and fit in with friends at school. But from an early age, she sensed something missing in her visits to the mosque. “There was a vacuum of God’s presence,” she thought. She struggled to understand the recitations uttered in Arabic and relied on her father for interpretation.
One day a friend in high school invited Sophia to a Christian church. She went without telling her father, and experienced something completely new. “I felt the Spirit of God for the first time,” she says. She left the church wanting to know more about Jesus.
About this time, Sophia’s father was getting more serious about Islam. “It became his only focus, to some degree,” she notes. He went on several pilgrimages to Mecca and spent more and more time in the mosque. “It alienated my mom and caused a lot of friction.”
When Sophia visited the home of the Christian friends’ who invited her to church, she saw an environment within their home that was strikingly different. “I saw grace, peace, and mercy lived-out,” she says.
One day Sophia asked her father about the claims of Jesus Christ. His face darkened, as if she had uttered a curse. “If you ever question Islam – if you think Jesus is the Savior, you will be out on the street,” he warned her.
“I got the message that Islam must be surrendered to, in blind obedience to everything,” Sophia notes. “There was no freedom to wrestle with my faith. I was forced to own it.”
Mark Ellis is a senior correspondent for ASSIST News Service and the founder ofwww.Godreports.com. He is available to speak to groups about the plight of the church in restricted countries, to share stories and testimonies from the mission field, and to preach the gospel.
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