Aliw: Hey, it’s Aliw. You know, lately I’ve noticed a shift in conversations that people are having about family. And I don’t know if you guys have noticed this too, but I even see it on my social media feed…and what I’ve noticed is that when people talk about their family, it’s becoming more and more negative.
There’s a bigger focus on the types of conflict they’re having, the boundaries that they’ve had to set in place just to keep the peace…you know, instead of what we can actually gain or learn from our parents and siblings.
And that got me thinking about our very first episode.
It’s a conversation between brother and sister, Ahmad and Naima Waleed. Ahmad shares how finding a true relationship with God in the Church Of Christ made such a positive impact in his life, that he couldn’t wait to share it with Naima, who, turns out, was also on her own faith journey.
So, instead of focusing on conflict and how complicated our relationships with our family can be, we’re taking a different approach. We’re sharing Ahmad and Naima’s story with you, instead; a story about what it means to share what you value most to those you love.
Ahmad Waleed: I went to a couple of Baptist churches, some A.M.A churches, Pentecostal… Catholic Church at one point in time.
Naima Waleed: What were you looking for?
Ahmad: My prayer was pretty much simple. It was like—God, I already know about these other places, I don’t want to be where they are. I want to be where you are.
Aliw Pablo: No matter where you are in the world, there is one thing we have all experienced together—change. This pandemic has forced us out of our comfort zones, and has pushed us into a new norm. And we simply surrendered and figured out a way to thrive.
I’m your host, Aliw Pablo, and welcome to Making Changes, a new podcast from INC Media audio. In this podcast, you’ll hear honest conversations between two people who are on the same path to change, but are in different stages in their journeys. And we’ll learn how they’ve navigated their way around their new normal, but always with God by their side.
On today’s episode, you’ll meet Ahmad and Naeemah, two siblings from Philadelphia, who grew up in the same environment, same religious upbringing, but found their way to the true Church in different stages in their lives. Today, this close-knit brother and sister will take us back to their journey on how after trying out so many different churches, Ahmad’s curiosity led him to find peace in the true Church Of Christ, which then led him to share it with his sister, Naeemah, who then shared it with their mother.
It’s a beautiful story of what it means to share the best gift to those you love. We’ll be flies on the wall as these two siblings share life lessons they’ve learned along the way. Let’s listen in.
Naima: Hey, brother.
Ahmad: Hey sis, how you doing?
Naima: I’m good. How’s it going?
Ahmad: I’m doing well. Very well. Thank you so much. Thank you.
Naima: I want to talk a little bit about— I remember you first telling me about the Church Of Christ. I’m not even going to lie—when I saw you, it was like— one time, you’re like, Yo, what’s up? What are you doing, sis? (I’m like) Nothin’, what’s good? And you’re like, yo, let’s meet up for— I think we met up to get something to eat or something. And I was like, alright, cool. Let’s do that.
So, then we met up. And then, I looked up. I was looking down and I looked up and I saw you walking, like walking down the street. What does it look like? It looked like you was floatin’.
You were like, floating! And I’m like, what is going on? It was like, you was floatin’, bro. And then, I said—okay. And then, I don’t know if you remember me saying this to you, but I said, whatever you’re up to, you have to let me know, because whatever you got, I want it.
He’s like, what? I’m like, bro, you’re like, floating! What’s going on? And he was like, Yeah, I gotta tell you about something. And I’m like, what is it? And I remember you invited me to come out to a bible study. And I don’t even think you knew this, but I was actually also seeking God, too.
Ahmad: Yeah, I really didn’t know about that.
Naima: Yeah, I was seeking. I had a prayer. It was just always something missing. Like, I had great people in my life. I had people who were supportive. However, I just felt like it was a missing piece. I didn’t feel like there was a wholeness about me. And I think, it was like a calling on my life—I felt like God was calling me, but I didn’t know where he was. And I talked to many people, like ministers and pastors of different denominations. A denomination I talked to was— I want to say, Pentecostal.
And so, I was going to this particular church. And it was very multicultural. They had all different races of people there. So, I liked that. It was diverse. And I was just going there, but I was recommended to go. And then you asked me to come to a Bible study. And I was like, okay! So, I went.
And I just want to know what had you asked me to come like, what made you say—Hey, sis, I want you to come to this Bible study that I’m involved in. Like, why did you ask me?
Ahmad: Well, first and foremost, again, I didn’t know you were seeking. So it was just interesting. Because for me—it compelled me to share. There were a lot of breakdowns that were going every which way.
It was just one of those moments where, you know, as I was going through those breakdowns, I literally had to sit down and assess—what was it that was going wrong, not just with the situations, but with myself. So when I reassessed myself and was able to, literally, focus on what it is that went wrong, it hadn’t taken action, you know, and that action that I had to take was prayer.
I went to a couple of Baptist churches, some A.M.A. churches, those are like, I would say, like African churches. There are some that were Pentecostal. And I actually went to Catholic Church at one point in time,
Naima: What were you looking for,
Ahmad: You’re looking for something to really impact you; to move you. And when you come out, it’s just you didn’t receive anything. My prayer was pretty much simple. It was like—God, I already know about these other places. I don’t want to be where they are, I want to be where you are.
And so—when I went to act on that, the prayer was so sincere for me. Because I prayed and I took that action, and it just manifested in my life.
And it was just interesting how it all came together. So, my whole aspect was — when you called me, we were having this conversation, and it was just like— you know, I was like, look, man, let me tell you about what I’m learning right now. And it compelled me to share that with you. You know what I’m saying?
Because, I think, even when people feel like they know it all, or they feel like they know what they know. Like, you know what I’m saying? It’s like, you don’t know that you don’t know about this. You know what I’m saying?
Naima: Well, you—you’re my brother, I love you. And it’s really just that simple. You invited me to something, I’m there, (it’s) kind of how we do things. And so he was like, I want you to come and hear this. I’ve been getting something good. And I was like, yeah, let’s do it. And that’s kind of how it was.
So it wasn’t really—it wasn’t really hard for me. I think we built a rapport and relationship. And I think that’s really important when you’re sharing with someone—you gotta have that relationship; like people trust you, you know, they know that you’re not going to bring them to something that’s going to harm them. And I knew that. I knew that this is something that if you’re into it, and it matters to you, then I’m going to check it out and see what it’s about. That’s kind of how that was—that was what was going on for me in the background.
So, when I—I mean, my experience of being there—I definitely, you know, I enjoyed the Bible study that you invited me to, but it was confronting. It really confronted me. And I started to find reasons why I want to go back to my church I was attending in the first place. I was like, okay, thanks for inviting me, I really appreciate the fellowship. And (then) I went back to my (old) church the next day. And so, when I went back to my (old) church the next day. And there were things that, instantly, I started to be able to differentiate between the Church Of Christ Bible study, and the church that I was attending.
And at the Bible study, I noticed that one thing that really stood out to me was there (were) multiple different versions of the Bible that were used. And the minister was very versed in knowing how to pull out the information to get to the point of the lesson. And then I looked at how the minister at the other church I was attending, and they used Bible apps. And I had never seen a book we use. I had my book—I had my Bible. But I was confused as to how to read the Bible.
I remember reading the Bible, and it literally felt like it was going from one—I felt like I was reading like a book, and then it changed from one part of time to another part of time. And I (thought) okay, it looks like there’s a puzzle here. How do I put together the pieces? And I knew, in that moment, (that) I need someone to help me understand what this Bible is about. Because I could not read it straight through—like linear—like a textbook, right?
So the lesson in the Bible study was very much—it was very comprehensive. In the Church Of Christ, the Bible study was very clear.
And then when I went back to church, it was like—I was still unsure of things. So I had already made a distinction. When I leave this—when I leave the church that I was attending, I’m going to call Ahmad, and then we’re going to set up a Bible study in the Church Of Christ because it just was very—it helped me see (that) there were questions I had. There were things I needed to understand. And being someone who is really newly learning about Christ, I want it to be grounded in something strong. I want to understand that—if I’m taking this step into Christ, I need to know who I’m talking about. And I need to be sure of what I’m speaking of. So that’s really, that was how it all panned out for me.
And I was like, sign me up! You were like, what? And I was like, yeah, sign me up for Bible studies. That was to me—I was willing to be confronted; to know more about the Church Of Christ.
Ahmad: I think that was the interesting thing for me, because, again, it was just like, out of nowhere, you were just like, sign me up. I remember that because it was just like, you know, I answered the phone. And I was like, Hey, what’s up, Naeemah? What’s going on? And you were like, yo, sign me up! And I was like, what? What are you talking about?
Naima: Yeah, it was like that. It literally was like that. Honestly, it was on my heart, too. As soon as—I was like, as soon as I leave this place, I’m calling Ahmad! And that’s what I did. That’s what I did. Because I was hungry, you know? If there was a hunger to hear,(then) there’s something there; (which) is not here at the church that I was attending earlier. There’s something in the Church Of Christ (that) I need to find out more about. So that’s kind of what it was about, for me. And, you know me. Once I have—once I’m intrigued about something, I’m gonna go all in.
Ahmad: My first experience in the worship service— it was amazing. I walked into the sanctuary for the first time, and it was just one of those things where it was just, there was no noise. I mean, despite the fact that the organ was playing, it was just one of those settings where it was just peaceful.
But it allowed me to be able to sit, meditate, and pray. And I’ve been in various situations, in various settings, in other religions and denominations, where I didn’t have that opportunity because there will always be yelling and screaming; there will be a band playing. And then it’s just one of those situations where there was nothing—it was just your thoughts; everything that that you’re going through right now in your life. It’s just one of those things that you just sit and pray and meditate upon. And it was actually very beautiful; it was actually very humbling (to be) in (that) setting.
You know, I think that was the one thing that I admired. Even down to the hymn singing—the hymn singing was beautiful, too. And it just—really, it was interesting. It just was one of those things where I was like, alright,, I can actually really get into this; this thing with peace, because, you know, in my life, there was no peace. It was always hustle and bustle; there’s always work.
Naima: I really wanted to know something that you got, because it was evident that you got something. It wasn’t just in what you said, it was in how you were being. There was a difference in you, there was a light in you; there was something that was definitely distinctive from who you used to be.
And you know, you’re a great person, you just—you could see that there was something that you had leveled up on. And I was like, what is that? I want that! Seriously, I’m dead serious!
Ahmad: So it was just interesting, you know, because you know, this thing about sharing and how I invited you. It kind of segued into (someone else) closest to us—you know, mom. Was there something that was heard, that resonated with you in the Bible study that stuck with you? And how was it able to move you to be able to invite mom, to be able to listen, as well?
Naima: Yeah, the very thing that stood out to me, and I think this is the very thing that sealed the deal for me— I would say, looking back after the Bible study, the Minister, Brother Jeff Domingo—He said, everybody won’t be saved. And I think that—because I’m kind of like this person. Well, I’m not like this person, but I am someone who wants to help people. I really enjoy being of service to others. I’m a teacher, you know, so I find that it’s not a coincidence, right? When you take a profession, like it becomes something that you enjoy, not necessarily something that you have to do like for some people, but for me, I wanted to do something that was just a part of who I am. So, when it came down to—when I heard that I’m just like—it’s kind of like what we talked about before, when we hear something good, we want to share it, right?
Naima: So, that’s kind of how it was. And I think of all the people to invite, why not invite my mom? She’s the foundation of how we all started on this journey, anyway. And I think she’s also a pillar in our family (who) people really, really love and admire. And because (of) , I wanted her to have (what) we heard and what we received. And so that was the thing that stood out for me to most, everybody won’t be saved. And (I thought), well, I can’t have that. I can’t have that! We’re gonna have some people saved. I don’t know who, but we’re gonna try. And that’s what pulled me to invite her.
And mom and I—that’s my ace boom goo! So, she was like, alright, let’s do it. So, she was really receptive. And I think when I started to get into it, that’s when she started to really get into it, (as well). I think, later on, someone had mentioned that, yeah, it was really hard to get your mom and invite your mom. And when you invited her, she was right there!
Naima Waleed: And it was kind of like—we all have relationships with people that really, you know, stick to us in a certain way. And I think you were that person for me. I admire you, who you are, and the kind of things that you’ve done for others, and always being there, when people need you the most. I think, very rarely, that human side of you, you don’t see that in everybody. So I think people really appreciate that part of you. And so, that’s who’ve you’ve always been for me, always been there for me. So I just felt like, why can’t I be there for you? In the same way? So I’m going to.
Naima: So fast forward, right, let’s talk about your baptism.
Naeemah: So you know, you finish all your 28 lessons,
Naima: And it’s all 28 lessons, and you’re waiting to be approved for baptism. And you’re attending worship services. And then baptism is here. What do you remember most about your baptism?
Ahmad: The minister. I think officiating was – I think it was brother Manny Pallid. I never forget, I think he told me, no matter what happens, no matter what you go through in life; because things will come up, things will happen. You know, things were already happening.
Ahmad: Even as I was attending those Bible studies, there were various breakdowns that were going on. But it just so happened that, me attending the Church Of Christ. And it just felt like everything, like everything – I lost my job, I got my place robbed. There’s just so many things that was going on. There were people that I would share my faith with and they would get angry with me. They would say hateful things. It’s just, I couldn’t believe it. I needed to pray.
Naima: I was really nervous. You told me to pray. You said pray. And I’m gonna pray. And that’s what we did. That’s what we did.
Naima: Was it the next day—it was your baptism?
Ahmad: I think it was something like that. It was leading up to that. So, I was making my way up to the baptismal pool. And I was in there. Now, in the water and I was just thinking, like, in the back of my mind, ‘Alright, this is it. This doesn’t mean that, my life will get better. It just means that you know who I am.
Ahmad: And I came out, I noticed, I noticed a very huge difference. Instantly, I felt this weight, this huge weight that I was either holding, or, like, it was like a huge boulder that was lifted off of my shoulders.
Ahmad: Instantly, I felt lighter than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. If I can go through this; with knowing that God is with me every day in my life, then I’ll be okay.
Ahmad: So how was your experience with your baptism? What was that like?
Naima: So I had to travel to Baltimore, the local congregation of Baltimore. And it was so awesome because my birthday was the day before. So literally, I was born on the 29th of November, and my baptism was the 30th.
Naima: So literally it was like, I’m truly being reborn again and starting newly. Seriously started newly. So it was very, very, very powerful in that regard, and I will never, I never forget, every time I have a birthday, my baptism is the next day. So I’m always constantly reminded that God saw something in me that was worth saving.
Naima: I had an experience of definitely feeling like everything that I experienced from the past had been washed away.
Naima: And really feeling light. And really feeling like it was like a fresh start. And they definitely mentioned that. This is not necessarily, like, you’re going to go through challenges in life, you’re going to go through trials, and your faith will be tested. And this is all the more reason why, you have to stay connected to your source, stay connected to God, and pray often. It was very empowering, very empowering. And yes, things continue to challenge me. But I’ve realized that it’s like a muscle in you, and you work the muscle out. And if you rip tissue, and then it formulates again and builds a stronger bond. And a stronger bond, the more muscle you rip; the more stronger you get.
Naima: So I use that analogy to say that the more challenges I face in life; at more faith in God. And there have been a lot of challenges that have put me on my knees. Okay, put me on my knees. And even sometimes I didn’t really know what to do. But all the more coming back to prayer, coming back to God, and staying consistent with the worship services, always put me where I really need to be. So baptism was everything for me. And I’m reminded about it every day.
Ahmad: So how different do you think our lives would have been if we were still wandering, like church hopping? 3
Naima: Honestly, I feel like I would have been stagnant. You know, how you start and then you stop. And then you start again, and you stop. I felt like, that’s what, that’s where I did what I didn’t want to do. I did not want to start and stop, I was ready to commit to something. Because I wanted to build a family.
Naima: And I think that was really my motivation. I’m getting older, I want to build a family, I don’t want my children to be grounded in nonsense., I want them to be grounded in something that’s true. And I also want to be grounded in something that’s true, and I want my husband to be grounded in something that’s true, and we live a life that is grounded in truth.
Naima: So for me, I was very clear about that. And I knew that my mom was a pivotal part of my life. She really set the tone for what a woman should do, and how a woman should be. And I wanted to be that, I wanted to do that.
Naima: So thank you for sharing your faith with me. Honestly, because without that invitation, Ahmad, I really feel like, my life would not be the same. It really changed my life for the better. It allowed for me to really see what’s possible. And I think that, to me, was the most beautiful thing that you could ever have done. You invited me to hear something and I felt like that was what was the calling of my life.
Naima: So thank you for thinking of me in that way. By thinking of me; from all the people you could’ve invited, right and all the people that you did invite, you know, you invited me and I’m, I’m so grateful for it.
Ahmad: Well, thank you for saying yes.
Naima: Of course.
Ahmad: My prayer for you is that you continue to grow in the faith. In life, it’s challenging. Life will bring curve balls, left and right. Prayer is always there. Let God know everything. Never, never put it in your own hands when you feel like you got to figure it out. God knows.
Naima: I know that the wisdom that you have comes from God. And I think you always say, ‘It’s not me! It’s God!’ Praise God, not me.’
Naima: And I think, always keep the love for God in your heart, no matter what trials and tribulations come your way. No matter what adversities you have in this life, always keep that light within you. Because if you realize it. it’s very contagious. People look at it; they may not know exactly what it is that you have, but it is something that is undeniable. And whatever you received from God, continue to rust that, and keep that because it is contagious.
Ahmad: Thank you so much.
Naima: You’re welcome, brother.
Naima: Love you, man.
Ahmad Waleed: I love you, too.
Aliw: Hey, Naima, and Ahmad, thank you so much for sharing your heart and your stories with us today. And listening to you guys talk, I can really feel the love you have for each other, and the care you have for one another.
Aliw: What advice would you have for other people who may want to invite their loved ones and share their faith but are perhaps a bit scared or unsure?
Ahmad: I just look at it, again. A nd sharing, it’s like a gift. It’s not something that, of course, you have to do this?
Ahmad Waleed: Like share. Share in a way where it’s not like pushing people away. And that was my intention all along. When I share, I’m not going to do this in the aspect of trying to push you away, but bring closer because I love you, and I just want you to listen. That’s all.
Naeemah, what would you say about how about Ahmad’s; the way he’s shown his love and intention, how has that impacted you? And how you’ve done the same for others, how you’ve shared your faith in the same manner with others?
Naima: The impact that Ahmad has always had, I’ve always admired Ahmad. I mean, he’s my big brother, actually, I have an older brother, but he’s my big brother. So when I say that, I say that there’s a relationship there. And it was something that wasn’t just like, because we are siblings, we have a relationship, it was really cultivated.
Naima: And it took time to build. And I think, with that being said, those things really matter. So when you are sharing your faith or when you’re building relationships with people, and you want to share this with them, you got to keep that in mind. Have you really built a relationship with them; for them to really trust that you’re going to bring them to something that really is going to resonate with their life.
Naima: And I kind of often think about that. I share with everybody. But I also remember, I too got a lot of no’s and got people saying yes. And then, they received it. They felt some type of way, they were happy about it, or they didn’t. And I think for me, it has a lot to do with remaining consistent.
Naima: Ahmad, to me, has always been such a heartfelt, great person. And that is something that’s consistent. So you have to remember people are looking at you. They’re looking at you always and looking to see if what you got from it. How does it look in your life? Is it really working for you. And if it’s not showing and you’re being then they may question, whether they want to come or not. So I think you have to always, as a Christian, we’re not perfect, but you have to always look at are you living the life that you’re inviting people to?
Aliw: No, it totally does. And I think you both gave such profound advice, from a place of love. And I think that’s what you both have that common denominator of both of your stories. It’s that you both came from a place of love, and a place of pure intention of just wanting to help another person, another soul, another seeker. So, we just want to thank you both. Thank you so much for sharing your story, sharing your heart, and really, sharing your lives with all of us. All the positive changes that you’ve made in your life. Thanks, guys. Thank you so much.
Ahmad & Naima: Thank you. Thank you for having us.
Naima: Thank you. We really appreciate it.
Aliw: You guys take care, and God bless.
Ahmad: You, too.
Naima: You, too. God bless.
Aliw: Shout out to Naeemah and Ahmad for letting us listen in. Now, if you have been trying to share your faith with someone you care about, we hope Ahmad and Naeemah’s story has given you the hope to keep trying. And if you found value in what you just heard—please, share it with a friend who may be seeking God or trying to find that missing piece in their life. And just like Naeemah—you never know—it might be exactly what they need.
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