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Review

Yara: The Story of a Hungry Soul

Yara was searching for something powerful to guide and lead her life — then she encountered Christ.
Around the world are those who hunger. Their hunger goes beyond the natural — their yearnings are those of the soul. And sometimes, in His way, Jesus satisfies them on soil far from their homes.

So it was with Yara.*

“There are no churches in my home city,” she says. “The closest ones were hours away, and there are only 12 in my country. I went to one place that I thought was a church, but it turned out to be a mosque.”

Sitting in a colorful pizza restaurant in the heart of the United States, Yara pours out the remarkable story of her life. She remembers all too well the difficulties of life in her North African homeland.

“Christians are very persecuted,” she says. “Some time ago some people tried to make a new church. The government accused them of having fake papers, but that was not true, their papers were not fake. People from the government came and were hitting people there.”

Yara’s mind is sharp, and as she matured, she struggled to find answers to questions about Islam, the religion of her nation. She left Islam, drifting to agnosticism and eventually atheism.

SOMETHING POWERFUL


Yara was not long afforded the luxury of ignoring spiritual realities. A vivacious participant in various online communities, Yara saw a Bible verse posted by a Syrian friend. She was struck to her core as she read Galatians 3:28 for the first time: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

“The treatment of women was what made me leave Islam,” she says. “There are many evil teachings, and killing and hate, and women are not treated equally. I thought that was what God must be like.”

Yet the accounts of miracles in the Koran had made her stay. Yara craved, as she says, “something powerful to believe in.” Then she discovered the miracles of the Bible. She was intrigued but felt concerned that perhaps just “a nice person” had composed the Bible.

She plunged into research, believing in the good of the natural world but not in Satan. An increasing number of online contacts — many participants of witchcraft — began to approach her.

As Yara’s spiritual search continued, the enemy invaded. Yara gives an account of one night when an evil spirit revealed itself to her, asking her to walk with it. “I knew then that there was not just a good natural world, there was also evil,” Yara says.

She struggled. Which of the many world religions could reconcile her frightening experiences, practical experiences, and hungry soul? “I didn’t know where I was going,” she says. “Science? Judaism? Islam? Christianity? I didn’t even know Judaism and Christianity had a connection in Jesus.”

A Muslim friend advised her to isolate herself in the middle of the night and pray for God to reveal himself to her. Yara did.

“That night I prayed, ‘Just give me a sign. Even if I don’t like You, I will accept You. If you are the God of Christianity, just give me a sign.’”

Yara’s mind was suddenly flooded with thoughts of various Bible verses she had been reading, and peace swept over her like a river, and she recalls that her heart was comforted.

Still, she yearned for something powerful, and wanted to be certain that the Bible was true. She stumbled upon a one-hour YouTube video walking viewers through scientific confirmation of many accounts in Scripture.

JOURNEY TO THE U.S.A.

After these events, Yara committed herself to Jesus and became a fearless witness in the online world, leading many others of Muslim backgrounds to redemption in Christ.

She is open in confessing that she continued to struggle with doubt and even wanderings. She still faces difficulty in being able to speak with her own mother about her Christian faith, despite a miraculous healing that took place in her family after she prayed to Jesus. However, He has continued to place people in her life to point her to himself, including upon her transition to the United States.

“My deepest desire upon arriving in the U.S. was to go to church,” Yara says. She also longed to be water baptized.

Due to being confined to a wheelchair, and her husband working every moment to support the family, that proved a difficult task. Then, in November 2023, a Canadian friend Yara had met studying Scripture online connected her to a close-by U.S. missionary, Houston, and his wife, Rose.*

Rose recalls, “I received a text on Friday night from another Kingdom worker (missionary) asking if I would be available to help a new Christian from a Muslim background who had just moved to the U.S.A. In all honesty, upon hearing Yara’s story, I felt overwhelmed. Nonetheless, I felt Holy Spirit prompting me to respond, ‘Yes, I can bring her to church this week.’ It was all worth it as I saw tears of joy running down her face during worship. It was the first time she had ever been to a church.”

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIFT

Houston and Rose soon learned of another deep need and desire in Yara’s life. She had spent hours poring over the Bible online but had never owned one. Someone tried to send her one while she lived in North Africa, but it had been confiscated by border patrol.

They reached out to fellow missionaries who, thanks to Light for the Lost, had several Arabic Bibles. Soon, Yara was able to receive her very own and first Bible, in her heart language.

Yara was ecstatic. “It is so good to be able to read the Bible without looking at a screen. Sometimes my eyes would get so tired reading on the internet. Now I can read and focus much better. This is the most beautiful gift that I have ever gotten.”

Rose says, “Yara’s story of coming to Christ and following Him is one of the body of Christ working together and sharing each other’s burdens. She has a passion for others to know the truth, especially those who come from a Muslim background like hers.”

As Christ fulfills Yara’s starving soul, He is empowering her to play a role in His provision for many others who are as she once was. In a beautiful addition to His gifts of salvation, Scripture, and water baptism, He also filled her with His Holy Spirit. Yara’s journey is far from over, but Jesus has proven that He is with her.

*Names have been changed for security.

Kristel Zelaya

Kristel Zelaya is a freelance writer and editor with global experience. She served as marketing manager for Assemblies of God U.S. Missions and as a writer and editor for Assemblies of God World Missions. These experiences have led her to numerous countries and cultures — far from beaten paths — on behalf of many who did not know how deeply their stories matter. Zelaya is also a licensed Assemblies of God minister.