All the praying to Allah did little good for Jazal Khatri, whose parents fought continually and finally divorced.
But when a co-worker’s prayers calmed her panic attack, Jazal experienced a peace never before felt.
“I can no longer think that I’m worthless because if my name is written on God’s hand, as Isaiah 49 mentions, that means He always cares about me,” says Jazal on a 700 Club video.
Jazal (now with a new last name, Osorio, as a married woman) grew up in a strict Muslim family in America.
“I believed that staying true to Islam was something my parents and I would bond over,” she says. “As I did as they requested me to do — like going to the mosque with them, participating in Ramadan fasting — it would bring us closer.”
The hoped-for result never materialized. Instead, she and her mom would flee at midnight frequently.
“I could go to bed thinking everything’s fine and wake up the next morning and it would be disaster,” she says.
And Allah responded with no peace when she prayed.
“Allah seemed really distant for me. I didn’t really feel like I was being listened to. I felt more of like I was going through the motions. I was not really feeling anything in return from god, any love or support or hope. I wanted.
“I wanted that peace that people keep talking about that Islam represents and I didn’t ever feel that.”
When she was a senior in high school, her father called it quits to the tumultuous marriage. Subsequently, mom started a new family.
“After I went through all that with my family, I kind of felt like I wasn’t worthy of any affection or love,” she recounts. “I looked for it from my parents and didn’t get it. It was kind of a reminder: Hey Jazal, you’re not that great. If you were great, your family wouldn’t have left you behind.”
In turn, the lack of family stability eventually brought on panic attacks.
While in college, Jazal worked part time in a private school. Her anxieties brought debilitating attacks.
“I thought I was going to die. My heart rate would just increase,” she remembers. “I would start sweating. I felt just darkness.”
The school’s administrator, Connie, came to her aid.
“Whenever I had panic attacks at work, she would pray with me and I would feel a lot of peace. I never felt that way when I finished praying my Islamic prayer,” she recalls. “I was like, what is Miss Connie doing? What does she have that I don’t have? Whatever it is, I want it.”
When Connie invited her to church, Jazal was blown away. The message was about Christ’s atonement, a concept completely absent in Islam.
“As a Muslim I didn’t even understand why Jesus had died,” she says. “I learned He died for our sins.”
Because the concept was novel, Jazal mulled Christ’s free offer for forgiveness.
She went back to the Koran to study and found that it misrepresented Christianity.
A few days later, she suffered another, severe panic attack.
“Maybe I should pray like Miss Connie,” she thought.
As she prayed, a light flashed in front of her face, orange like the sun.
“I felt an overwhelming wave of peace and love,” she remembers. “I fell immediately asleep.”
The next morning when she awakened, she pulled out the Bible she had been given and started plowing through.
“What I found in there was so much peace,” she says. “Isaiah 49 talks about how loving God is that even if a mother forgets or abandons her child, God will never abandon you. It says that your name is written on God’s hand.
“Knowing that God loves me in that way and cared about me in that way was something unique to me that I never had any inkling about,” she says. “God really showed up when I needed Him most.”
She kept studying and saw the historical evidence supporting the Bible. Upon accepting Jesus as God, she never suffered panic attacks
Today, Jazal is married and living in Houston. She shares her faith boldly.
“I want everything I do and say to represent Him. That gives me such an amazing purpose in life,” she says. “I’m God’s representative here. I get to be His hands and feet and show other people what God’s love is like.
Michael Ashcraft teaches journalism at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.