Karim Shamsi-Basha's fascinating journey from Islam to Christianity spanned two decades. It was in 1992 that this spiritual voyage officially began when Shamsi-Basha suffered a brain aneurysm and fell into a coma for nearly an entire month.
Miraculously, he recovered and set out on a mission to find out why he beat the odds and survived. And now he's sharing his harrowing story.
Following this near-death experience, Shamsi-Basha says he believes that it is his mission in life to "share God's love with people and let them know He loves all his children," he told The Christian Post in an interview.
In his new book, "Paul and Me," the Christian convert details the life-threatening illness he overcame and the theological journey that followed. In addition to providing intriguing insights, Shamsi-Basha also shares experts' thoughts about Paul, a central Biblical figure who had a notable conversion of his own in Damascus.
Watch him share his story with WVTM-TV:
Growing up in Syria, Shamsi-Basha was a Muslim, however his family embraced all faiths. When he turned 18, the young man moved to the United States to attend the University of Tennessee, the Post reports. From there, he married, had children and started his life in Birmingham, Ala.
Then, the brain aneurysm struck -- and life dramatically changed for Shamsi-Basha.
At the time of his affliction, he was a photojournalist. One day while he was covering a fire at the Independent Presbyterian Church, he suddenly collapsed, The Marietta Daily Journal notes. While he could have died or been paralyzed from the aneurysm, he beat the odds and later chose to see the events that unfolded through a spiritual lens.
Here's more about his story and "Paul and Me":
Following his illness, the journalist began reading the Bible and was even baptized in 1996. But he hadn't yet arrived yet in the Christian faith, he said. It took the end of his marriage, homelessness and additional hardships to bring him to a point where he could finally fully embrace Jesus.
"In 2008 I completely surrendered to God," he told the Post. "Now I can't get enough."
In "Paul and Me," the author uses these experiences to help others see God more clearly. It's not a negative commentary on Islam, he says, as the book does not issue moral judgements on the faith; instead, it details his very personal voyage and conversion experience.
Author and photojournalist Karim Shamsi-Basha (Photo Credit: Karim Shamsi-Basha Facebook Page)
"It’s a love story,” he told the Journal. "God loves every person on the planet the same. He doesn’t love believers more than non-believers. He just cries and watches what we’re doing to each other."
Faith is certainly his friend these days, as some of Shamsi-Basha's relatives -- many of whom are still Muslims -- remain in Syria, struggling with the current violence and political upheaval. The situation has left him distraught, as he watches the situation in his homeland devolve from afar.
While one of his sisters lives in New York City, another currently residents in Syria and faces daily uncertainty.
"I talk to her just about every day," he told the Journal. "She’ll say things like, 'Today they bombed about two streets over.' And I’ll say, ‘I’m glad you’re okay.’ She wants Assad to stop. She wants the rebels to stop."
For more about Shamsi-Basha's story, check out the "Paul and Me" website.
(H/T: Christian Post)