Tito Momen’s story is a truly incredible example of discipleship in these latter days. He was named Muhammad Momen and raised in an incredibly conservative Muslim community in Nigeria. His father named him Muhammad because he was chosen to receive training and become a great Imam. Yet, while studying at an ultra conservative school in Egypt, Tito wandered from his faith and began drinking and engaging in inappropriate sexual activities. During that time, he ran into an old friend who had previously been a drinking buddy and eventually converted to the LDS Church. Impressed by his friends example, Tito attended Church, read the bible and the Book of Mormon, and deeply felt the spirit. After attending Church for an extended period of time, Tito was baptized into the Church. His betrayal by a long-term girlfriend eventually led to being disowned by his family. He attempted to flee Egypt and eventually wound up in prison where he languished for fifteen years. Throughout it all, Tito maintained his faith and was eventually released due to increasing medical problems and the concerted efforts of groups dedicated to freeing Christian martyrs and the LDS Church.
Tito’s depiction of his baptism reminded me of my conversion:
“A few members of the Church were able to attend the baptism. I changed out of my street clothes into white baptismal clothes. Standing barefoot, I looked in the mirror, tears streaming down my cheeks. I was overjoyed and frightened, a weird combination of emotions. I kept reminding myself that Latter-day Saints believe in life after death. They also believe that the gift of resurrection is not exclusive to Christians. Everyone is resurrected. All I could do was hope that when my parents reached the other side, they’d recognize that salvation comes through Jesus Christ. Maybe then they would thank me for having the courage to accept Christ during my lifetime.” The True Story of a Muslim Who Became a Christian (2013-10-15). My Name Used to Be Muhammad (Kindle Locations 2760-2764). Ensign Peak. Kindle Edition.
He knew that his family would disown him or worse. Indeed, soon afterwards his father called him and disowned him and his mother eventually committed suicide out of shame. Tito’s new faith was pushed to the brink. As he spent 15 years in prison, he doubted whether those who loved would ever come to understand.
Yet, an especially remarkable experience that occurred soon after Tito came out of prison. His father was an especially harsh individual who had disowned Tito because of his faith. Yet, years later as his father lay on his death bed he called for Tito. Tito was scared to return to Nigeria because he could be called, but he returned to see his father. This was his experience:
““My son,” he whispered. I approached slowly. We stared at each other in silence. Then he reached for my hand. His touch felt frail. I leaned over the bed to get closer to him. “Now that I see you,” he whispered, “Allah has answered my prayer. I asked Allah that if what you believe in is true, I should see your face before I died. Allah has shown me your face. So I believe in whatever you believe in.” Was I hearing things? Was my father senile? “Is it too late for me?” he asked. He sounded so desperate, so pathetic. By that point I was an emotional mess. My father had made me cry many times in my lifetime. But this was the first time the tears were born of sympathy. I could see the fear in his eyes. “It’s never too late,” I said. “Father in Heaven is a God of mercy.” He looked in my eyes. I took his hand. “Christ died for everyone. Everyone can be redeemed, Father.” “The Lord you’re worshipping will take care of me?” he pleaded. Too choked up to speak, I just nodded. We talked for two hours that day. It was the best conversation I ever had with my father. It was the last time I saw him alive. He died later that afternoon.”
The True Story of a Muslim Who Became a Christian (2013-10-15). My Name Used to Be Muhammad (Kindle Locations 3938-3950). Ensign Peak. Kindle Edition.
The immediate result of Tito’s faith was tragedy and suffering. Indeed, one that he loved died because of his choice. However, Tito knew that in the long run his faith would be rewarded and that eternally his family would come to praise his choice. Like Tito, none of my relatives have converted, and I have faced opposition due to my choices, yet like him I also maintain faith that one day those I love will understand and be grateful that I had the faith to do what was right despite the challenge.