My name is Rabia Yilmaz Tufan. I am a Turkish believer. I accepted Christ as my personal Savior 24 years ago. I am married to a great husband who supports me. My husband is running one of the two Christian Radio stations in Turkey. He is also ministering in our local church and the whole Turkish church in different positions. We have three children who are a gift from God: two boys, ages 11 and 2 and one girl, age 7. Our desire is to raise them in His love and in His ways.
Even when I was a little child, I was trying so hard to reach Allah. I wanted to reach Allah soooo hard that I was willing to do whatever I had to do to reach him.
Even though my mother has a German background, I grew up in a Muslim culture. My mother?s grandmother was reading Bible stories when my mom was a child, but in this Muslim environment she had to keep Jesus love in her heart as something secret. That is why, for me, Islam was the only way to reach Allah. My childhood was not easy. I had some major problems in my family and my social environment. . I needed that great power in my life since my life was so hard. I am the oldest of three children in my family. My father was an alcoholic. My family atmosphere was not very healthy for a child to grow up in. Because I was the oldest child my responsibilities were very heavy. I needed to take care of my family.So reaching Allah was the only hope for me.
What could I have done to reach Him? I learned to pray five times a day. When I was 8/9 I started to fast during Ramadan without eating anything or drinking anything all day long for a month. When I was 11 yrs. old, I covered my head and learned Arabic to read the Koran. I took lessons about Islam and I realized that everything was based on the fear of hell. I was very young and I needed that super power in my life. That is why I was trying so hard as a little child, but I noticed that there was something wrong with this picture. I felt like I was trying so hard to reach him but he didn?t care about my effort and he didn?t help me or didn?t do anything for me. When I noticed that, I felt so disappointed but if you are Muslim you don?t have a right to question Allah. As a Muslim you are nothing you are just a creature. Even questioning these things is sin according to Islam. You should do whatever Islam says you have to do. That year there was something going on in my mother?s family. My aunts and my cousins were accepting Christ one after another one. When I heard their stories that they became a Christian, I was feeling so sad for them as they were changing their religion. When they became a Christian they were told they were going to hell for believing in three gods. Then one of my aunts, started to evangelize us. She was visiting our home and telling about the Good News. She gave us a Bible as a gift. I started reading the Bible and I was listening to my Aunts words carefully. My goal was not to become a Christian at all, NEVER because I didn?t want to go to hell. But one thing from her sharing was VERY powerful for me. She said God is love! That information touched my heart in a very powerful way! What a strong message this was. I had NEVER heard that before, GOD IS LOVE. I had never heard that in Islam, you couldn?t hear that in Islam. I got so many lessons but I never heard that. My heart was affected by this strong message so I felt like I could give all of my heart to Allah who is Love. .
Still there was hell threatening me. By hearing, by reading and learning more I found myself in a darker place. I noticed that I needed to make a decision. I was thinking that I should stay a Muslim; I should keep my Islamic faith but the thing I was hearing about Christianity was touching my heart deeply and I was feeling my heart pulled toward Jesus. As a 15-year-old girl, how was I to take responsibility for this decision. What if I made a wrong decision? Then I made a decision to take this big question mark to God. I had to make the right decision! There were different ways in front of me to go to Allah. Some right ways and some wrong ways. I didn?t know the right way to reach him. I didn?t know, but He knew the way.
Then one day, I cried out and fell on my knees and started talking to Him. I said, I don?t know what to call you, Allah or God but I have different ways to reach you and I don?t know if the right way is Muhammad, Moses, David or Jesus. I don?t want to go to hell by making a wrong decision so I ask you, please, You come to me because You know the way. I made this prayer from the deepest part of my heart. I don?t know what happened at that time, but I know something happened!
I started going to church meetings and kept learning about Christianity, the Bible and Jesus? life.
Then after a while I felt ready in my heart to accept Christ as my personal Savior. I cannot say that I chose Jesus, but He chose me. He came and He took my heart, He took my life and started setting me free, day-by-day. My biggest fear was accepting Christ and then feeling regretful but it was impossible to be regretful because I saw His ministry to my life and to my heart. He took all of the issues of my life into His hands and started to change them. He healed my heart. His ways were surprising me all the time.
In the beginning I was feeling like I wanted Him to take everything from me and start over, but He didn?t do that, He took my major problems and used them for a greater plan. He took the pain from my childhood and restored my heart and started using it to touch the lives of other people who were hurting too. As a child I was in a very unhealthy leadership role in my family and he took that unhealthy role and restored it and anointed it and started using it for His ministry. Step by step He taught me, healed me and set me free and He is still doing these things in my life today.
And this is a promise of this verse fulfilled in my life:
Jeremiah 29:12-13 (NIV)
12 Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.