Inspiring encounters


This is a story by Diane Johnson, of her encounter with a Turkish woman

Diane Johnson

The journey begins.

On a package holiday in Turkey in 1997, a year before I was ordained, my husband and I  were visiting the great Mosque in Bursa. A Muslim woman came towards the party, made straight for me, appeared to recognise me, greeted me (though I could not understand the words she spoke) and embraced me, stroking my arms. We both had tears in our eyes. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew something momentous had taken place. I simply pondered these things in my heart.

Four years later, as I was being installed in my parish, St Philip’s, in Leicester, I noticed a young Muslim woman on the front row of the congregation. After the service, I greeted her. She was Turkish, a PhD student at Markfield Institute for Higher Education, and she had come to observe a Christian service. Her name was Habibe Yesilova. I made friends with her, and she took me to meet her friends. And that is how I met all my Muslim women friends. Together we decided to arrange a meeting for Christian and Muslim women. 

And that is when I realised that God had been calling me through that unknown Muslim woman in the Turkish Mosque. All my inter faith involvement has sprung from those meetings with two remarkable Muslim women. It has been such a joy.


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