With 372 friends, 68 photos, and comments on everything from her newest profile picture to her plans to study biology at Calvin College, Faheemah's (not her real name) Facebook profile appears typical.
But scroll down and the four-word post “JESUS CHRIST IS LORD” is just the latest in the teenager’s love for Jesus.
Faheemah grew up a devout Muslim in Dearborn, Mich., which boasts the United States’ largest Islamic population. But when one of her routine Facebook debates on faith led her to start questioning her beliefs last year.
Her interest in Christianity intensified during after-school discussions with her high school biology teacher.
Although he never instigated the talks, the teacher—a member of the local Christian Reformed Church who asked not to be identified after his interaction with Faheemah nearly cost him his job—always answered her questions.
Between those discussions and a Facebook application that introduced her to the Bible, Faheemah turned to faith in Christ.
She kept her conversion from her family for months before breaking her silence. Her mother, who has raised Faheemah and her siblings since Faheemah’s father died, felt betrayed. She told her that if she did not return to Islam, she would be left behind while her family returned to Lebanon.
Lifeguards, the youth ministry of church, supported Faheemah, but Dearborn youth pastor Brad Stolman encouraged her not to defy her mother by attending the weekly meetings.
“Even though she couldn’t be with us in body, we knew was part of us,” Stolman said.
This summer, Faheemah made profession of faith and was baptized, again willing to sacrifice her family relationships.
When she announced her plans to attend Calvin, Faheemah was told that if she did, she would find herself homeless when she returned. Church members immediately offered space in their homes and are working to raise her college costs not already covered by financial aid.
Faheemah prays for her mother, who has since backed off from her threats to disown her daughter.
“I want to see her come to Christ,” Faheemah said. “She thinks [Christianity] is a phase I am going through and that I will get over it. But this isn’t a phase.”