Yusuf Agoro was raised in a faithful Muslim family in the Houston suburbs. But when as a teenager he placed his faith in Jesus, his devout Muslim parents, relatives, and mosque ordered him to recant.
Could his brand new faith stand firm?
The following is a summary of the podcast interview above. Many more details are included in the original podcast episode and we encourage you to listen.
A Close Family
Family was everything to Yusuf Agoro. Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins…
Everyone in Yusuf’s family was tightly knit. They all loved each other dearly.
For Yusuf’s family, their Muslim faith was an inseparable part of their family culture. So, growing up, Yusuf was sent to a quranic school and learned to recite much of the Quran in Arabic.
The Muslim faith was filled with rituals and requirements. A devout Muslim would follow the 5 pillars of Islam, consisting of:
- Profession of Faith (shahada): Reciting the Islamic creed
- Prayer (salat): Praying 5 times a day
- Alms (zakat): Giving to the poor
- Fasting (sawm): Observing Ramadan
- Pilgrimage (hajj): Traveling at least once to Mecca
Even as a young child, many of these felt empty and pointless to Yusuf. He wanted to believe in Allah… but he didn’t. He believed there was a god but was confused about what that meant.
Yusuf was a practicing Muslim, but functionally by middle school he had adopted an agnostic mindset.
Everything began to change, though, through a God-ordained friendship that started with skateboarding.
The Skater Kid
Yusuf’s family was originally from Nigeria but had eventually landed in Houston, Texas where Yusuf grew up in a quiet suburb. They were just settling into a new neighborhood when Yusuf had decided he wanted to start skateboarding.
Just as Yusuf was tearing open the packaging of a brand-new skateboard, he noticed a boy, close to his age, skateboarding down the sidewalk and doing some amazing skateboard tricks.
Yusuf learned that the boy’s name was Daniel, and the two quickly became best friends. Yusuf had no idea at the time just how significant that friendship would become in his life.
What’s the Big Deal About Jesus?
2 years after they met, Daniel became a believer, and many conversations followed. Yusuf was genuinely curious to hear about the Christian faith. He was especially interested in hearing about Jesus.
Muslims believed that Jesus was only a prophet. Yet Daniel explained to Yusuf that Christians believed that Jesus was actually God. This was difficult for Yusuf to believe because he had been taught that claiming Jesus was God was the highest form of blasphemy.
What was even harder – impossible – for Yusuf to understand was that Jesus died on the cross for sins. Yusuf perceived that this was a fundamental part of the Christian faith, and yet it also was directly contradictory to what he had been taught. And even with his background aside, he couldn’t fully comprehend why Jesus’s death mattered so much.
Yusuf eventually concluded that he didn’t believe in Islam or Christianity. Outwardly, he was still a Muslim, performing all the rituals and requirements. But his heart wasn’t in it.
Yusuf and Daniel stayed close friends, and Daniel faithfully continued to pursue Yusuf’s soul. When Yusuf was in 8th grade, Daniel invited Yusuf to watch The Passion of the Christ.
The movie took Yusuf off guard. He was totally unprepared for the extremely realistic depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion and the accompanying gore. Frankly, it was repulsive, and his heart remained unable to comprehend the Gospel.
And for the next 2 years, that was the end of the matter. Daniel and Yusuf remained good friends. They disagreed about each other’s beliefs, but they were respectful. Daniel was a few years older than Yusuf and moved away to attend Bible College.
Yusuf remained nominally Muslim, and still prayed and attended mosque regularly with his family, but that was it. It was just an act.
But then one night, God made himself known to Yusuf in a very obvious way.
“Do You Love Your Family?”
It was 2am at night, and Yusuf’s house lay silent. He was the only one awake, and his computer was the only source of light. He turned off the computer, the screen went black, and Yusuf found himself in pitch black darkness as he made his way down the hallway to his bedroom.
Out of nowhere, he was stopped in his tracks.
He felt that God was speaking to him – something he had never experienced before.
Do you love your family?
Of course I love them, Yusuf thought.
Then came the next question, this one more sobering. What do they deserve?
Yusuf knew the answer. To die separately from God.
Finally the last question went through Yusuf’s mind, and this one pierced Yusuf’s heart. Do you love them enough to die for them?
Suddenly, scenes from The Passion flashed back through Yusuf’s mind. The crown of thorns. Bones dislocated. The scourging whip. All of it coming back to Yusuf 2 years after seeing a movie he hadn’t thought twice about.
Would you do this for your family?
Yusuf loved his family dearly. But he knew the answer to the question.
No, I wouldn’t.
But that’s what Jesus did for you.
Love Like This
The realization hit Yusuf like a flood. God had done for him, a sinner, what he was not willing to do for his own family. God loved him far more than he could ever know.
Finally, Yusuf felt the weight of God’s love. There in his bedroom, in the middle of the night, Yusuf confessed his faith in Jesus, the Son of God.
He was forgiven of his sins, and Yusuf Agoro, the once-Muslim – became a child of the one true God.
Yusuf Agoro – The Christian
The next morning, Yusuf called Daniel and told him about his conversion.
Daniel was elated to hear the news and immediately began discipling Yusuf. He taught Yusuf how to read the Bible, pray, and cultivate a relationship with Jesus.
He also invited Yusuf to attend a men’s small group where Yusuf shared his testimony.
But although Daniel and his men’s group knew that Yusuf was a Christian, there was a very important group in Yusuf’s life that did not – his own family.
Yusuf was completely intimidated by the thought of telling them.
A Secret Christian
So, Yusuf didn’t tell his family about his new-found faith right away. But in the meantime, Yusuf had to navigate growing in his Christian faith while still living in his parents’ home.
This meant that he couldn’t attend church or Bible studies regularly and that he had a secret hiding place for his Bible. On the rare occasion he did attend a church service or youth group function, he would lie to his parents about where he was going.
Yusuf assured himself that he would tell his family about his conversion to Christianity when he was an adult in their eyes – maybe when he was around 30 years old.
A Personal Relationship
In the meantime, Yusuf also set out to become an expert in the Christian faith, so that he could defend it against the refutes he knew would come when he broke the news to his family.
Yusuf threw himself into learning as much as he possibly could. But one day he came to the realization that he himself had come to faith through God’s working in his life and not through his own intellect.
He came under conviction that he needed to put his efforts into developing a personal relationship with God rather than simply gaining academic head knowledge about Christianity.
Work at a Christian Camp?
Yusuf graduated from high school and moved away to attend Texas State University where he began to enjoy more freedom to pursue God openly and spend time in Christian community.
One night, Yusuf shared his testimony at a campus ministry event where a recruiter from Pine Cove, a Christian Summer Camp for youth, was listening. Yusuf had no idea the recruiter was in the crowd, until the man approached him after the event and asked him to come work as a camp counselor for the summer.
Yusuf didn’t even give it a second thought. The answer was a definite no. He didn’t own a car at the time, so there was no way he could ever pull off working at a Christian camp without letting his parents know that he had become a Christian.
However, Yusuf told the recruiter that he would apply if God laid it on his heart. He went home and didn’t give the offer from Pine Cove another thought.
Time to Tell the Truth
But, over the next several days and weeks, Yusuf kept feeling God tugging at his heart to apply for the job at the camp.
A few weeks later, Yusuf found himself on a call with the Camp Director who wanted to hire him immediately to be Director of Projects.
Yusuf was finding it hard to be excited about being hired for the position because of the question that was still burning in the back of his mind. How was he going to get out to the camp and work there for the summer without telling his parents he had become a Christian?
So, right there on the phone with the Camp Director, he blurted out the only thing he could think of. “Could you call my parents and just tell them this is a kid’s camp but not mention anything about it being Christian?”
Of course, the director refused to go along with Yusuf’s idea. Instead he said that Yusuf needed to tell his parents the secret he had been hiding and get back with him about the camp position by the end of the day.
No Longer a Secret
Yusuf couldn’t bring himself to actually talk to his dad, so, with shaking hands, he sent a text to his dad, telling him something he hadn’t planned to say for another 10 or 15 years.
His dad responded tersely, telling Yusuf that he didn’t have permission to go to the camp. His mom was hurt and angry, practically in disbelief that this could be happening to her son. For his parents, it was as though Yusuf was rejecting not just their faith, but their family.
A Difficult Season, But a Faithful God
The next several years were difficult for Yusuf while his family grappled with his new identity in Jesus.
But even in such a painful season, it was obvious to Yusuf that God was working in very specific ways and had a good plan in forcing Yusuf to come clean with his family.
God’s grace was present with Yusuf through all the difficult conversations that followed, and today, Yusuf is grateful that God “forced his hand” and allowed Yusuf to confess his faith before all men, including his family.
Yusuf Agoro today
In recent years, Yusuf has gotten married and has followed God’s calling into full-time ministry as the College Director at a church in Austin, Texas. There is a sweet irony that the former Muslim who once went to great lengths to hide his faith in Jesus, now openly proclaims Him.
- The Well Austin (church where Yusuf is the college director)
- Pine Cove (Christian summer camp where Yusuf worked)
- The Passion of the Christ (movie that Yusuf watched which prompted his thoughts about Christ’s sacrifice) (currently free on Amazon Prime)
- Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross by Norman Geisler
- Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi
- The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel
Related Podcast Episode – A Jew Converted
Joe Friedman spent much of his life as a devoted Jew, practicing rabbinical rules and trying to earn favor with God, something still seemed to be missing. After attending a cult meeting, Joe decided to read a Christian Bible for the first time… and had no idea what God was about to do. Listen here.
“Silhouettes” by Colony House (Yusuf Agoro Drum Cover)