Listening to his co-worker Haytham sing Christian worship songs for several days while painting a house in Cairo, Walid had finally had enough. His ultraconservative Muslim father, who had five wives and 32 children, had always taught him to hate all Christians.
That deep-seated hatred resulted in Walid beating Haytham with a wooden stick but since that didn’t stop his singing, Walid decided he would silence him permanently.
One night after work, Walid followed Haytham home. Once he was alone, Walid stabbed Haytham in his side. Looking to see who his attacker was, Haytham recognised it was Walid.
Walid immediately went into hiding at his aunt’s house. Friends however, brought him news that Haytham had been attacked so badly his kidney would be removed. Walid also learned Haytham never filed a police report against him, even though he knew Haytham had seen his face.
A determined grace
Weeks later, Walid left his aunt’s house to look for a new job. Walking down the street, Walid was hit by a taxi and for 15 days he lay in hospital recovering from his injuries.
One morning he was startled to see Haytham and some of his Christian friends walk into his room carrying fruit and drinks. Walid screamed thinking they had come to kill him.
Haytham said “Why are you screaming? I have come to say I am sorry for what has happened to you.” Haytham could sense Walid’s fear as they began to talk. “Don’t worry,” he assured him. “I will never do something bad to you. You are really dear to my heart. I love you.”
“How come?” Walid asked nervously. “I attacked you. You still love me?”
“My God told me to love you whatever you do to me,” Haytham replied.
“No, you don’t love me!” Walid yelled. “You are going to do something! You hate me!”
Realising he had upset Walid, Haytham placed the fruit and drinks on the table and together with his friends, they left.
After Walid was released from hospital, a friend from the painting crew regularly came to visit him. He also gave Walid money during the months he couldn’t work. At first Walid simply thanked him for his generosity, but as the money kept coming he grew suspicious.
“Why do you give me this money?” Walid asked.
“Someone knows your case,” the friend said. “They gave me this money to give to you.” For days Walid pestered his friend to name the donor. Eventually his friend told him, “It’s Haytham.”
The Koran however, had taught Walid to never let a non-Muslim have authority over him, so he returned to Haytham all the money he had received since leaving hospital.
“You are not better than me,” Walid told him. “Just take your money.”
“Listen, you are like my brother,” Haytham replied. “You are dear to me. I will not take it.”
The two continued to squabble until finally Haytham pointed to a nearby beggar. “You can just give it to this poor lady,” he said, and taking the money he handed it to her.
The hatred Walid felt for Haytham suddenly turned to admiration as he had never seen anyone like him before. Overwhelmed with guilt, Walid recalled all the times he had hurt Haytham only to receive love in return. It made no sense to continue hating him.
A disturbing dream
When Walid was able to work again he returned to his painting job and again saw Haytham and another Christian listen to worship music through their earbuds. Although Walid still objected, instead of beating them he moved to another part of the building.
At 1.30am their urgent job was completed so they decided to have a coffee together, but Walid realised he had missed the last train home and decided to spend the night at the 24/7 café.
“Don’t stay there,” Haytham said. “Please, come home with me.”
Walid knew he shouldn’t stay at a Christian’s house, but feeling exhausted, he accepted the offer. Haytham showed him the bedroom however, on entering the room, Walid found himself facing a wall-sized mural of Jesus.
“I was completely shocked when I saw the picture of Jesus,” Walid told a VOM worker.
Staring at the mural, Walid wondered how Christians knew that Jesus was the Son of God and after Haytham left the room, Walid’s heart filled with hatred and he spat on the mural of Jesus.
That night Walid dreamed of two angels who showed him a bloody, slain lamb. Suddenly, the blood of the lamb covered Walid’s eyes. As he wiped the blood away, he could see the lamb was now fully healed and alive.
“I felt the lamb was calling me, asking me to follow him,” he recalled. “When I awoke, all I wanted to do was get away from the house.”
Walid didn’t tell anyone about the dream, and the next night, afraid the dream would return, he forced himself to stay awake. “Maybe Allah is punishing me because I slept in a Christian house and I need to repent,” he thought. The following day, he visited a local mosque to pray and meet with an imam. Explaining the dream, the imam only screamed at him and accused him of having an evil spirit. As he endured the abuse he heard a voice say to him “He is only after your money.”
“Don’t worry, just give me some money and I will give it to the Muslim leader,” the imam said. His suspicions confirmed, Walid left the mosque and also decided to leave Islam, but something was still missing.
Drawn to Jesus
At work Walid seemed lost in his thoughts. One of the Christian painters noticed and enquired if everything was okay. Walid shared his dream and his strange experience with the imam. The Christian called his pastor and as he patiently listened to Walid, he suggested,
“Walid, pray to God that He may reveal Himself to you.”
Walid hung up the phone and struggling to understand his thoughts and feelings, he cried out to God: “Did you create me just to suffer? Are you real?”
“I was just trying to talk this out in front of God, who I didn’t know yet,” he said.
Walid then saw a vision of Jesus, full of light. When the vision ended, he felt joy and comfort for the first time. “I felt like I was a changed person,” he said. Immediately Walid gave his life to Christ and for the first time prayed as a Christian.
Days later, Walid went in search of a church and at the service the pastor gave him a Bible and welcomed him back any time. Walid however, kept his newfound faith a secret from his family.
One year later, his family learned of his conversion and his brothers beat him until he was unconscious. Once conscious, Walid discovered bruises and wounds all over his body and his brothers warned him that he would be beaten again if he continued worshiping Jesus.
The beatings continued but Walid never renounced his faith in Jesus and one day after another heavy beating, Matthew 10:33 came to mind: “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
“I told my brothers, ‘I profess I met the true God, I love Him, I am a Christian,’” Walid said. “Jesus’ voice was with me and was comforting me, encouraging me.”
Believing his family want to kill him, Walid is currently in hiding. He faces many challenges as a Christian convert from Islam however he is very grateful to have many Christians in his life who care for him, including the man he once tried to kill.SUBSCRIBE