by Dr. Michael Abdul-Malak
Dr. Michael Abdul-Malak, a highly respected gynecologist, is not only a friend of Bill and Karen Rudge, having delivered two of their grandchildren, he also is a supporter of the Bill Rudge Ministries. The following testimony describes his journey from avid atheist to devout Christian.
I was born and raised in a nominal Christian home in Homs, the third largest city in Syria. I attempted to read the Bible regularly and to live according to its teachings to the best of my ability. However, no matter how hard I strove to be religious, I nearly always failed to adhere to the teachings of the Bible.
In my early teenage years, having failed to live according to the teaching of the Bible on the one hand, and influenced by the strong atheistic environment surrounding me on the other hand, I became skeptical of the Bible’s teachings. I concluded that Christianity was impractical, and in fact impossible to truly adhere to. Later on, through the study of evolution in public school, reading Darwin’s book “The Origin of Species,” and being exposed to the writings of Karl Marx, I became an avid atheist.
By the age of 17, I had co-founded and led an atheist group that strove to convert fellow students to atheism. At the age of 18, I graduated from high school with the highest score in the entire central district of Syria, and was one of the top ten students in the entire country. Had I not been so skeptical of Christianity, I would have been the top student. In every subject except for religion and sociology, I had received a perfect score.
I went to Damascus for my first year of Medical School in the fall of 1972, and just like Saul of Tarsus –– who made the same journey –– I was full of enthusiasm to fight those who believed in God.
Midway through my first year in Medical School, my closest friend and co-founder of the atheist group converted to Islam. He immediately started to pressure me to become a Muslim.
After a few months of studying the Qur’an and interacting with that group, I was quite impressed, mostly by their dedication to what they believed and how much they supported each other. I became convinced that Islam was the most realistic and the most practical religion to follow. I was ready to announce my conversion to Islam. The only obstacle in taking that step was my concern about the reaction it would provoke within my family members and friends.
In the summer after finishing my first year in Medical School as one of the top three students, I went to my hometown in contemplation of announcing my conversion to Islam.
One day before the end of my visit, I asked my cousin if we could go see the cedars of Lebanon. He took me to a friend of his who owned a car, with the hope that he would be willing to give us a ride there. We were greeted at the door of his friend’s house by a middle-aged man who appeared to be very friendly. He immediately initiated a conversation with us. When he found out that I was attending Medical School in Damascus, he informed me that he was from Damascus as well. He then invited us inside and gave us the most amazing testimony I had ever heard in my life up until that point. He proceeded to testify to us how God had changed his life from an adulterer, gambler, smoker, and an alcoholic to a new man who was able to establish himself and start a wonderful family. He then told us how a man had once visited his shop and had spoken to him about the changing power of the Lord Jesus Christ. He then described to us how he had immediately changed as soon as he surrendered his life to Christ. It was a very powerful testimony about the ability of God to change lives.
I thought to myself, “If that is what Christianity is all about, then I want to be a Christian.” I was, however, curious about the difference between Christianity and Islam. I inquired of him, “What is the difference between Islam and Christianity?” He stated in very simple terms, “Islam is like any other religion. It will teach you what to do, but it will not give you the power to do it. Christianity is Christ Himself living inside of you and giving you the power to do what he wants you to do.” I knew at that moment that Islam was not the solution that I was looking for. I knew also that it was Christianity, and more specifically, Christ that I truly needed. I definitely changed my mind about becoming a Muslim, however, I was not yet ready to accept Jesus as my personal Savior.
Soon the summer ended, and I returned to Damascus to start my second year in Medical School. Even though I became busy immediately in trying to focus on my goal of staying at the top of my class, God continued to work in my life through my studies and in many other ways. One peculiar way he worked on me was through a calendar someone had placed in my rental room. It had a daily Bible verse of encouragement, as well as a commentary on the backside. Every night before I went to bed, I had a strong urge like a still, small voice inside my head that was calling me to read the verse of the day. One night, I was so exhausted from studying I went to bed before I read the verse. I could not go to sleep. I felt strongly compelled to get up and read the slip. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:26, NKJV). That verse was exactly what I needed to hear. It penetrated so deep within my heart that I could no longer resist God. I was ready right then and there to surrender my life to God, but I did not know how to do it. I felt at that moment the urge to go and see that man whom I had met in Lebanon in the summer. The moment I greeted him, he recognized me and invited me inside. He asked me about my relationship with the Lord as if he had known all along what had been going on in my life. He invited me to go to his church the next day.
When the preacher got up to the pulpit, read from the Bible, and began preaching. I felt as if he was speaking directly to me. I could not wait for the sermon to end, just so that I could talk to him and ask him to explain to me how I could become a Christian.
The pastor explained to me that we are all sinners and that the only way to have our sins forgiven is through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. He read Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” He cautioned me however that following Christ could be very costly. I told him that there was no question in my mind that I wanted to open the door for Jesus to enter my life and save me from my sinful nature, regardless of the cost. He told me to repeat after him as he prayed, asking Jesus to forgive my sins, enter my life, and make me a new person in him. I prayed with all of my heart, and I felt an enormous burden fall from my shoulders. I felt like I was indeed a new person, and that the past twenty years of my life were a total waste. I wished that I had known Jesus much earlier.
To Him be the glory now and forever. Amen.