Nejib Boumenjel is from Tunisia, the country that ousted its President in January 2011 and inspired the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings across the Middle East. But Nejib has experienced a different kind of revolution
All Nejib understood about other religions was what he had been taught at the local Islamic mosque until he met a group of Welsh Christian missionaries. Their kindness and authenticity greatly surprised him.
"Something I could not explain attracted me to them and made me want to talk to them more," Nejib remembers.
As they drank coffee in his house the next day, Nejib began inquiring about the differences between Islam and Christianity.
"The general assumption people had in my country was that Christians were 'immoral' and had no respect for God – an impression confirmed by the way the European tourists behaved in our country, since it is assumed all European and Western people are Christians.
"The leader of the missionaries told me that the immoral behaviour of the tourists did not reflect the teachings of the Bible."
This answer surprised him, Nejib says. "I used to believe that the Bible had been deliberately changed to justify and encourage those kinds of behaviour.
"They told me, very gently, what Jesus actually teaches in the Bible.
"I was really taken not just by what they said but the kind way in which they talked to me."
Nejib realised he needed to do further investigation.
"I decided to read the Bible for myself and find out what it really taught. They gave me a Bible in Arabic and we agreed to meet again. I started reading the New Testament, and was deeply touched by the life and teaching of Jesus in the book of Matthew."
He met with the group again to discuss any queries that had come up in what he was reading.
"They answered my questions, and told me that they would ask the Lord Jesus to help me understand what it means to be a Christian and to become a follower of Jesus.
"Even though I could not understand much of it, something within me was telling me that the Bible was so special and unique – different from any other book I had ever read.
“I strongly felt that God loved me personally”For 10 months Nejib communicated with the group's leader, sending many questions, and began reading two books.
"I Dare To Call Him Father was about a Pakistani lady to whom Jesus revealed himself in a wonderful way," Nejib explains. "It speaks about her spiritual journey to faith in Jesus.
"After reading it, I was overwhelmed by the understanding that God is truly a God of love and mercy. I could feel that God's love was real and strongly felt that He loved me personally."
"I decided to become a Christian by saying this prayer: 'Lord Jesus, if you are truly the Saviour of the world and really died on the cross for me, and if you are alive and can hear me, please help me to believe it and make it real in my heart. I would like to follow you. Please forgive all my sins and come into my life and change me, and make me part of your kingdom. Would you please accept me?'"
After that prayer, Nejib says, "I felt overwhelmed with a sweet sense of peace in my heart and I knew that something had happened within me."
He then began studying at the same Welsh Bible college on scholarship.
"While I was there the Lord Jesus taught me many things. I was so hungry to know more about God. The more I read the Bible, the more I loved the Lord.
"Since Jesus came into my heart so many good changes have happened in my life, and God has called me to be a Christian worker and serve him for the rest of my life."
After Bible college, Nejib trained for a year of inner-city mission training called the Urban Challenge Course. He now works for Birmingham City Mission on their team that shares the good news of Jesus.
"I am forever grateful that Jesus has come into my life," Nejib says.•