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No Greater Love

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In the culture where I live, families are generally very warm, loving, and close. However, my family was disconnected and cold, and I never knew for sure if my parents loved me. The majority religion they followed is the same—disconnected and cold.

By the time I was 14, I was sure I would never know what true love is. However, I’m learning that God will do strange and amazing things to show His love to us. Because of the terrible work of religious extremists, our family was displaced to a new city, a new language, and a new culture—in our own country.

Outside the international church where Abed met Brad, an Alliance international worker. Photo by an Alliance international worker.

While I finished my last year of high school at a temporary school in my new city, I started teaching basic English to child refugees as part of a UN project. A group from Europe was running the project, and one guy especially was always trying to talk about God. Every time Adam* spoke, the conversation completely shifted to talking about the gospel and Jesus.

My first thoughts were, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not enjoying these conversations. Then he said, “Can we go out for coffee? We can discuss this more outside the classroom.” Somehow, I agreed, and we met five or six times. He told me about what God had done in his life, how he became a Christian, and all the countries he’d visited.

I thought he was a cool guy, but he went through the Bible too quickly for me. I had never heard these stories. “Is this real?” I asked. “Yes!” he replied. “If you want to find out more, you can read the Bible for yourself.”

I downloaded the Bible on my phone and ended up reading it for hours. They were just stories to me, but I was fascinated with what Jesus did and how He lived. I kept thinking about His teaching and miracles.

When Adam and I would meet, I had a ton of questions. What happened here? Why did He do that? Why did He say that to that woman? Why did He heal this person?

“This is the grace of God and His love and compassion,” Adam replied.

God’s Got This

Then one day Adam said, “Our project is finished. It’s time for us to leave.” The time of his group’s departure came quickly, and I found myself with bits and pieces of Christianity. I didn’t understand all of it, but I was amazed that a man—the Son of God—did so much. Our meetings together had me thinking, This is real. I need to find out more and read more. I realized I needed Jesus in my life.

“I want to be a Christian,” I told Adam.

“This is amazing!” he said. “You can place your trust in Jesus right now.”

Once Adam and his group left, I kept reading but really needed somebody to walk with me. I kept in touch with Adam by e-mail, and I tried to find a church.

Meanwhile, my dad’s company offered him a position in Turkey, so my family decided to move. But I said, “I’m staying here,” because I didn’t feel like I needed to go.

My parents knew I had been meeting with Adam. We had had some long discussions about my conversion to Christianity.

“This is nothing,” they said. “Just forget about it. You don’t have to be Christian.”

“But I chose to be, and I want that,” I replied.

“Well, we don’t accept this, and if that’s what you want, we’re not going to support you.”

There was so much conflict at one point that I moved out to live with my older brother, who was newly married. At the same time, my final exams were approaching, and I was trying to focus on my studies. I didn’t talk to my parents for a while, and after finishing my exams that day, I went to their house. It was empty. Without a word, they had left. I was 18 years old.

The love Abed receives from his spiritual family at the international church means the world to him. Photo by an Alliance international worker.

I tried to call them. Nobody answered. But I was calm and confident. I knew God was saying, “I’ve got this. I know what I’m doing. You don’t know, but I know.” I could either lose my mind or completely trust Him.

And God was faithful! To this day, I don’t know how I found the international church in our city. I saw this foreign-looking guy doing some work with a shovel and wheelbarrow. We said “hello,” and I asked him where the international church is, and he said, “I’m it! You’re here.” He is an Alliance international worker named Brad. We talked for an hour or so and again the next day and the next day and the day after that.

Every time we met, I learned a ton. It felt like we had been meeting for years, but it was really one week. When my family left, I had nothing but my phone and the clothes on my back. Brad and friends helped to put me up in a hotel and fed me for two months. I was at their house every day, so eventually Brad and his wife, Laura, invited me to live with them. It meant a lot to be with them because I needed someone. I wasn’t close to anybody.

Living with them was a lot of fun. We read the Bible every day, and every day I learned something—like a baby growing into a child. During the year that we lived together, I learned to trust God, and I learned who I am now as His child.

This Is My Story

Living with Brad and Laura also prepared me to be an adult. After a year, I got my first job, and I moved out. Now I have an apartment, and I do most things on my own.

Abed (right) talks to an Alliance international worker at the English language learning center. Photo by an Alliance international worker.

I have started discipling two guys. One of them says he’s done with the majority religion here, but he doesn’t know what he’s looking for now. As I teach him about Jesus, I feel like I am learning more than he is. He is learning about God, and I’m learning things about God I had never thought of. It’s really fun.

I haven’t heard anything from my family for a long time. I don’t have anything against them. They did some bad things to me, but I have learned that God calls us to forgive people who hurt us. I don’t know if I will ever see them again, but I have so many people now who truly care for me. I have a family.

Now as I tell people my story, I always try to encourage them that having a spiritual family is more important than your biological family. So many people at the international church have shown me they love me. They encourage me and cheer for me.

When I had to choose between my family and their beliefs or my faith in Jesus, I chose to be with Jesus. Your family may love you, but God loves you way more. He will stay with you. His love is much greater than anybody else’s love. No human can love you like that.

*Name changed

Family Feud

In the culture of the Middle East, where I live, family is viewed as the basic core of society. In many households, you see up to four generations living together. The interests of the family are more important than the individual. The family you belong to can determine your status and your reputation. So most people try hard to act for the honor of their family.

Many guys I talk to say, “Christianity is really amazing.” They react positively when I talk to them about the life of Jesus. But when I say, “Do you want to become a Christian?” they say “Oh, no. I can’t.” They believe the good news, but they’re afraid their families will do something violent or that their connection will be cut off.

I don’t encourage people to become Christians and forget about their families. Rather, I say don’t be afraid of being a Christian, and try to share this with your family. Tell this to your brother, your mother, your father, or another relative.

Your family not talking to you anymore isn’t the worst thing that can happen. Sure, it’s not nice. Nobody would want that. But there’s a reason why God calls us His sons and daughters. It’s because He is our Father. It’s a true honor to be a part of His family.

—Abed

2 responses to No Greater Love

  1. Great story! I love hearing stories of people sharing about Jesus! I feel I am a very small part of this story in that I was a music instructor/choral director for Brad and Laura at St. Paul Bible College–now Crown College. I’m so glad the Lord is using them in the lives of other people.

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