under her PILLOW
Neneh Dabor grew up in a Muslim home in the Republic of Sierra Leone in West Africa, but always felt strangely drawn to Jesus Christ.
Her parents sent her to a Christian school because those were the “good schools” in her country, and she always slept with a Bible under her pillow—not a Koran.
“If I had a nightmare, I would turn the light on, take my Bible and read it, and then go back to sleep,” Dabor says. “I depended on it.”
Today, she depends on that same Bible to help her teach Sunday school at The Salvation Army in Yonkers, N.Y., an inner–city corps that serves 17 different nationalities and some former Muslims.
Dabor said her parents were upset when they finally discovered that Bible under her pillow. Her grandfather didn’t understand the Trinity and told her Christians worshipped three gods. She prayed five times a day and fasted during Ramadan like all devout Muslims, but God seemed distant.
In Jesus’ Name
“One day I just said, ‘I cannot feel this god that the Muslims are calling on.’ He felt far away,” Dabor says. “Now, I know that it is through Jesus, the Son, that you get that relationship with the Father. I yearned for that.
“Jesus was always faithful. Every time I was in trouble, even though I was a Muslim, I always called on the name of Jesus and He always helped me. I knew that He was the way, but my mind was into material things.”
Dabor said she also found Christians a bit boring.
“I didn’t see the joy on the outside,” she says. “I thought it was like a scary thing to become a Christian because I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to be bored like them.’ I didn’t understand until I got saved. That’s when I knew there was joy on this side.”
Dabor later came to America and married a Muslim man, but the marriage didn’t work out and left her a single mother.
Hungry for truth
“Everything came crashing down,” she says, “It was at that moment in my life that I cried out to the God from whom I had run away.”
In 2007, Dabor went with a friend to a small Pentecostal church in Yonkers. One day, she walked down the aisle, said the sinner’s prayer, and officially became a Christian.
“It was a silent peace within me,” she recalls. “I did give my life to Him and I asked God to help me make up for lost time, which He has done.
“I knew I had to get to know Him more for who He is and that’s when the Lord gave me the love and desire for studying the Word of God in my heart. There was a fascination about the Word of God that was in me even as a young child growing up in Africa.”
Dabor says as a “baby Christian” she didn’t understand the Trinity, but as she studied the Bible more, she learned that Jesus really was God who “came in the flesh” and died on the cross for her sins, unlike what she had been taught in Islam.
‘He is God’
She also was struck by the differences she found in the Koran and Bible: Allah was unforgiving; Jesus forgave even His enemies.
Her eyes were also opened by 1 Timothy 3:16, which references the incarnation of Christ; “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached about among the nations, was believed by in the world, was taken up in glory.”
“I struggled with Him being God because in my mind I was always thinking it was an insult to the Father. Why would you put Jesus as equal? Now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know He is God the Son.”
A request granted
Six months after her conversion, God led Dabor to The Salvation Army in Yonkers, N.Y., “and told me that’s where He wanted me to grow.” She has been there now for eight years.
“I said, ‘Lord, can you please send me where they help the poorest of the poor?’ I always had that desire,” she says.
Dabor waited to become a senior soldier until she was sure the Salvation Army’s doctrine was sound. She has been teaching Sunday school for more than a year.
“Nothing gives me more joy,” she says. “I love doing it. This is my passion. This is my desire. I give God all the glory. This is Him doing it. I never miss a Sunday. I get ready and I go and teach His people.
“Growing up as a Muslim, I knew more about the Bible than about the Koran,” she says. “I really believe that was an act of God and He was preparing me all along, even though I wasn’t saved. I thank Him for His faithfulness.”
Hitting the streets
Today, you also might see Dabor out in the streets of Yonkers telling people about her amazing journey and the Savior she loves.
“Today, my life is going everywhere in the streets witnessing,” she says. “That’s my No. 1 calling—evangelism. I will witness to Jews. I will witness to Muslims. My background has helped me a lot and I give the Lord all the glory.”
Dabor said her family was “not happy” about her decision, but they have “respect” for the woman she has become.
“They say, ‘You are no longer the person that you used to be.’ I know it’s because of the fruit of the Spirit,” she says.
Dabor says her family calls in times of crisis.
“When they call me and I begin to pray in the name of Jesus, they get results,” she says. “I use it as evangelism now. I tell them, ‘Listen, it’s not me. I’m just an empty vessel. It is the name of Jesus and the faith that comes with that name.’”
Preaching to everyone
Dabor has seen a brother and an aunt accept Christ through her witnessing, which involves passing out War Cry magazines on the streets of Yonkers.
Evangelism is also the heartbeat of her corps, which reaches out to the hurting along the busy streets just outside its doors.
Captain Luxene Claircius, who is the corps officer and who was born in Haiti, said about 10 people with Muslim associations from Liberia and Nigeria attend the corps and four have become soldiers.
“They come to our Bible study, they come to our fellowship, they come to our prayer meeting,” he says. “We attract people in the way we show the love of Christ, without discrimination. That makes them comfortable being a part of The Salvation Army.
“Our job is to go preach the Gospel to everyone. Jesus Himself did not discriminate against anyone. My responsibility is to preach to everyone.”
‘Love in this place’
Among those people is Andrew Adeghe, born in Nigeria. He came to the United States in the 1970s and for 30 years was a New York City public school teacher.
Adeghe, who grew up in the largely Christian area of Nigeria, has been coming to the corps for three years and appreciates the biblically sound teaching of Christ as the Son of God and His admonition to love your neighbor as yourself.
“We all relate as one family,” Adeghe says. “We have a very nice assembly. The population of the corps has been growing. There is love in this place.”
Captain Claircius said the fellowship time was the brainchild of his wife, Auxiliary Captain Cilianise Claircius. “Our job is to invite people to come to church and talk about God and then they can be saved the same way we are saved,” Cilianise says. “We feed them and we clothe them and we talk about God with them.”
Walking the talk
Dabor said the evangelistic spirit of the corps is one reason she loves to teach and to lead.
“My desire is for the lost,” she says. “That’s what keeps me going. I have to witness. This is a time to wake up as never before. We cannot sit back and keep our mouths shut.
“Time is short. Every true believer that is full of the Holy Ghost has to be working toward the Kingdom of God. We study and we learn, but we also have to go out. I don’t want to only teach it, I want to demonstrate it, and lead by example.”
by Robert Mitchell