Ismeal's Story

One of our staff who knows Sign Language was teaching classes at a deaf school and he came to us with a prayer request for one of his students by the name of Ismeal. Ismeal had recently become a Christian but this decision brought dangerous consequences for him.

All the teachers at the deaf school knew Ismeal; he was outgoing, one of the best students in the school and a natural leader. In the Christian Religious Education classes at the school, Ismael learned for the first time about the Bible and about the life and death of Jesus Christ. After learning more from the chaplin, Ismeal decided to become a Christian and when he did, he became hungry to learn more about God. He wanted nothing to do with the forced Muslim beliefs that had been placed on him his whole life.

Ismeal began to go to church and he joined every activity and club he could find that would help him to grow in his faith. He began reading the Bible and attending Bible Studies, aspiring to one day become a Bible Study teacher himself. During a school break, Ismeal was invited to join the school’s Drama Team and go to a Christian camp and perform. When his father found out, he became angry and demanded that Ismeal stop going to this school and stop meeting with Christians. It was at this time that Ismeal explained to his father that he was now a Christian and that he would not be following Islam any longer. His father became enraged and began to abuse his son, seriously beating him, choking him and telling him he was going to kill him. Ismeal was terrified and struggled to break free. He ran to a nearby relative’s house who gave him a safe haven until school started again.

Ismeal was devastated by his father’s attack on his life. He tried not to become angry and vengeful. He could not understand why a father would want to kill him. Over time, Ismeal wanted less and less to be like his father and his beliefs, and he began to hate his upbringing. One day, he decided he would change his name from “Ismeal” to “John”. He informed all his friends and his teachers of his name change and he scratched out his old name “Ismeal” on all his books and belongings, and printed below it “John”. He then went to his family’s house and nailed a notice on the house that read, “Ismeal is now to be called John.”

When the father found this notice nailed to his home, he became so furious that he set out on a rampage. He grabbed a knife, slipped it into his sock and went to the deaf school. Once at the school, the father asked to see the school chaplain, and when the chaplain was not available, he asked to see his son. The school office did not know the father was angry and carrying a knife, so they told him that he could find his son playing sports in the field. When the father saw his son, he pulled out his knife and tried to slit his throat, but John broke free and he ran. Fortunately, John ran much faster than his father and the father was captured by the school security guards.

The Head Master of the school had the father detained for some hours, trying to decide whether to press charges or not. He managed to calm the father down and he helped him to understand that he could not force anyone to believe in a certain religion. He explained that it was everyone’s moral and civil right to choose his or her own beliefs, just as he also wants this right to choose for himself his own beliefs. Furthermore, he explained that his behavior was serving to chase away his son, and that his violence was only making matters worse for everyone involved. Lastly, he assured him that he would have no choice next time but to have him arrested and sent to jail. Fortunately, the father listened to the Head Master and he apologized. He also received similar counsel from friends over the next weeks.

Today the family has accepted John’s decision to be a Christian and we are happy to report that healing has begun to take place in this family.