*Representative photo used to protect identity.
Born into a devout Muslim family, Erna* grew up learning the Quran in East Java, Indonesia. “Since I was in elementary school, the reason for me to read the Quran was so that I could understand the religion better,” claims Erna. Erna said that religious teachers taught that Islam was the perfect religion, as it is taught in Arabic, and that Muslims were not allowed to learn about other religions. However, as she grew older, her curiosity towards other religions besides Islam began to grow.
After graduating from high school in 1995, Erna applied to study at a university in Jakarta. Erna moved to Jakarta to pursue her studies, and stayed in a boarding house close to her campus. With the new found freedom she had being away from home, Erna decided to buy a Bible, and read the whole book.
The more she read the Bible, the more she began to understand it. It was then that Erna decided to join her Christian friends at a weekly Christian campus fellowship, and with the encouragement of her friends, began to attend church. “I was never afraid to ask my Christian friends about the things I read in the Bible. It was them that encouraged me to join the fellowship and to attend church,” says Erna.
It wasn’t long before she recognized that the Bible was the truth she had been looking for all along. Erna made the decision to continue studying the Bible, but had not yet made the decision to follow the faith. When her family found out about her encounter with Christianity, her family gave her a big copy of the Quran, and encouraged her to read it hoping that it would lead her back to Islam. Erna however, had already made up her mind to leave Islam. Considered a disgrace, she was then expelled by her family.
A few years later, Erna made the decision to give her heart to the Lord, and was baptized. She says that she still tries to keep in touch with her family but to no avail. “I believe my family knows about my baptism. We’ve not spoken to each other for a long time. I always try to communicate with them until now, but they always ignore me. But that is fine, I understand that it is the price that I have to pay” Erna smiled.
Erna, now married with 2 children, works with her husband to reach out and bridge the gap between Muslims and Christians. She is also very involved in women’s ministries to help Muslim Background Believers (MBB’s) and Christians to understand and interact with their Muslim neighbors.
*Name changed for security reasons