Hope for the beaten and bullied
An IFES staff worker in the Middle East shares his story
I stared at the face in the mirror: I hate you, I said.
I did. I hated myself. I hated my life. I hated my father who beat me. I hated my lonely childhood. I wasn’t safe or happy at home or at school. From Grade 1 to Grade 12, I was bullied – just because of my name. Every other child at school had a Muslim family name, while mine happened to be Christian. But it was just a name! I certainly wasn’t a Christian. None of my family were. I didn’t believe in God and I hated the idea of a God being a Father.
Speaking to God
Somehow during my first year at university I found myself going to a Christian camp. The speaker was an apologist. I was fairly well-read and knew enough about evolution and other scientific theories to argue against the existence of God. Or so I thought. But this man had answers to my questions. All of them. One by one, he broke down my objections, corrected my misconceptions and found holes in my reasoning.
The next morning, I spoke to God: Maybe you’re here. But I didn’t see you in any place I’ve walked in my life. Where are you?
As soon as I’d prayed, it went out of my mind. But that night, the speaker turned to us and said: There is someone here who has asked God if he was there in his life. God is answering you today: he is here.
I went to a quiet place and cried. I spoke to God again: I want to be with you.
From 5 to 50
Life was not suddenly easy after that. I still had a lot of problems. But God was at work in my heart and life.
My friend and I were encouraged by an IFES staff worker to start a Bible study on campus. We began with five and grew to 50. The Christian students in that group later left university and became a church. Now I work part-time in psychology and part-time with the small IFES movement here. We have between two and three hundred students involved: Christians, nominal Christians and Muslims.
Help for the helpless
I met a student at a conference recently. She had been sexually abused by her brother and felt like her life had ended. Eight times she’d attempted suicide. I listened to her for two hours. It was a desperate and, humanly-speaking, helpless story. I didn’t say much, but I promised her that Jesus was able to help her. That day was the start of a new life for her. Today she believes in Jesus and is studying psychology overseas because she wants to help others who have been abused.
Her background is not unusual. Many students in this country are struggling with the pain of broken families, divorce, abuse and addictions. I would love our movement to be a place where students can bring their problems and find freedom, healing and hope in Christ.