Karen Pearce is an IMB worker among European peoples and contributing writer.
SHREVEPORT, La (BP) — Warmth enveloped Jasmine when she came up from the baptismal waters at Broadmoor Baptist Church. “Everything was warm around me and I was feeling happiness and like finally I’m complete,” she said. “I can say it now aloud…. ‘That’s me, that’s what I am, I am Baptist.'”
Although being Baptist is a common thing in Jasmine’s current home state of Louisiana, it is quite unusual in her home country. She grew up in Bosnia where Islam, Orthodoxy and Catholicism vie for prominence. She was born into a Muslim family — her grandfather was an imam. But her father was an atheist and her mother was never willing to be labeled.
“She always said there is just one God and God will help you. That was her way — to find God, to believe that He’s a savior, He’s a father,” Jasmine said. Her mother’s faith opened the way for Jasmine to seek.
Today, Jasmine knows that she has met the true God, Jesus Christ, and she has taken the brave step to publically declare her faith in Him alone for her salvation.
“I was worried about how they would use it against me in my country,” Jasmine said. But her father, who is now a believer, encouraged her to follow through with baptism.
“He said to me, ‘You are ready now, you accepted Christ, I don’t know what you are waiting for. Don’t worry. Don’t be afraid.'” she said.
Jasmine’s father still resides in Bosnia, living his faith despite the dangers, while Jasmine moved to Shreveport, La., two years ago, seeking a better future for her children. It was there that she came to know the God who had been caring for her all her life.
“He was like my father. Jesus Christ was my father and I didn’t know,” Jasmine said. “He always took my hand through the whole way and tried to show me, ‘That’s Me, that’s Me,’ but I didn’t understand.”
Jasmine held out three fingers and said there were three milestones in her journey.
First was God’s protection and provision when there was war in her country and she had to flee as a refugee as an 18-year-old girl. Second was the miraculous healing of her infant son a decade ago, a situation that compelled her father to become outspoken about his newfound faith in Christ. And third was when she met Mack and Pam Slocum at a Shreveport high school during her daughter’s freshman orientation two years ago.
Only one month after moving from Bosnia, she had no idea what to do. Mack offered a helping hand and an invitation to his Sunday School class. She knows God put him in her path to show her the way.
“He was like a foundation,” Jasmine said. “Whatever you do here [in America], it’s hard to begin, but God sent me that man. He is like part of the circle — God showed me Himself through Mack.”
Mack doesn’t think he did anything special. “It was clear she wasn’t from Louisiana and I’ve always felt like it was my responsibility to help people who need it,” he said.
Mack knew that she needed friends and thought a logical place to start was at his Sunday School class, so he invited her and she began to come regularly.
“As a teacher you can look into the eyes and see if there is understanding and I could see that there was confusion in her eyes and it was likely she wouldn’t bring it up around all those people,” Mack said. So when he and his wife were alone with Jasmine he offered to answer questions and explain things to her. He was the one who first helped her understand who Jesus is.
“This part was hard to understand,” Jasmine said, “but I called my dad and he explained everything from top to bottom [in their native language]. I understand now. He’s our Father, our Lord — this is right.”
The change in her life has been evident to Mack. “It is clear to me that she now has an understanding of the Gospel, salvation and who Jesus is,” he said.
Mack takes no credit himself but generously gives it to his Sunday School class at Broadmoor. They have been so good to Jasmine that her friends in Bosnia thought she was making them up.
“They thought it was too good to be true and she had to take pictures to prove she was telling the truth,” Mack said. “It’s incredible. I was so proud of our folks — good, kindhearted, loving people.”
Jasmine’s life, amid the miraculous milestones, has had some tragic chapters. Her mother died of leukemia a few years ago, her father is blind, and she herself has won a battle with cancer. She is beginning to build a new life in a new country with nothing but her family and faith, but Jasmine continues to praise God for all He has done for her. She reads her Bible daily and prays with thanksgiving.
“First thing I do I always say, ‘Dear God, You are my Father, You’re the greatest, You’re the only one, my Savior. Thank You for all the good You have done for me. ‘”