God had plans for me.
I was born in a small town in Algeria and into a family of six Children. France occupied my native country. My Parents were unschooled and Muslims. So, I was a Muslim by birth. I was told that as an infant, I was so sick the doctor gave me two days to live but God had other plans for me. No, I did not die.
At a very young age, my parents enrolled me in a religious school where I learned to memorize the Koran. As a family and individually, we suffered a lot under the French occupation. My father was jailed many times, even when my eldest brother was forced to leave home to serve in the French army for mandatory service. My family spent several months without a provider. We were even forced to leave our hometown and move elsewhere.
One day during the Algerian civil war, while I was playing soccer with my friends, we were shot at. Many died but I only suffered a bullet wound. God had other plans for me. While at the hospital, I saw many people suffer and die daily and nightly. I was angry with God and westerners. However, Algeria became independent and I was very happy. Still serious about my faith as a Muslim and now in High School, I began to devote more time to it. I was an example to many students.
Life without the French occupation settled in, yet things didn’t change. My country was free and so was I but I was unhappy and felt a void in my life. Some people call it an identity crisis. Maybe it was an identity crisis but for me I needed to connect to that one missing thing or a person. I needed to understand why I was born, and when I die, where I will be. Slowly, I became a nominal Muslim and later actually thought that God did not exist. I also joined a local communist underground student movement. While still in High School, I started reading, studying philosophers, and also drinking, smoking and doing other things I won’t talk about here. I felt confused and lost. My major was Mathematics, so naturally I read some writings by Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician. In his so-called "Pascal wager", Pascal talks about whether God is or isn’t. Though Pascal argues from a gambling point of view, I was convinced that for me this was no gamble or coincidence. This latter fact increased my desire to seek God.
I finished School and came to the US to further my studies. I was very skeptical of strangers because of the scars of the French occupation. But God had plans for me. God gave me a host family who befriended me and invited me to their home and to their Church. One day, I heard Dr. Mark Hanna, a Lebanese believer in Jesus Christ, speak about Jesus Christ. I was not receptive but heard new things about Jesus from Nazareth.
Later I learned that my mother died. I was very close to her and could not accept her sudden departure from my life. Having lost my mother and having failed in other areas of my life, I was hurting, tired and fed up. I wanted to end my life. As if someone was talking to me, words came to me saying, "You want to end your life, then consider it done and give your life up to Jesus". I heard who Jesus is and what He did for me on the cross.
However, at first, I did not believe. Someone suggested I start reading from the book of John especially chapter 3. I did but I could not understand it. I read chapter 3 again looking for a way out but found myself faced with John 3:18 which left me with no way out when Jesus said ““He who believes in Him is not condemned; BUT he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”. I said to myself what have I done to be condemned. I was a good child and a good man and very helpful to everyone that knew me. Then reading the above statement again made me realize that the real reason was because I didn’t believe in the Son of God, Jesus. Thoughts started to come to my mind: “If you believe in Jesus now, what are going to tell your family and your friends?” And “you mean you have been wrong all these years?”
I continued reading and came to John 14:6 (NKJV) where Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father EXCEPT through Me”. Here, clearly, Jesus said He was the only way and excluding all others. No one, I knew then or now made such a claim. Thinking that there was no other way to be saved than through Jesus, I knew I had to believe Him. I tried to remember all the things I heard prior to this point and I understood I was a sinner and needed God in my life. I turned to Him who died for me, was buried and rose again, asking Him to come into my life, accepting Him as my Lord and my Saviour. I came to chapter 6 of the book of Romans and realized I needed to be baptized. So, after receiving instructions in a class from an elder on baptism and breaking bread, I was baptized by full immersion.
I thank God who did it all. It was all His doing and nothing I had done on my own except to seek Him, repent and accept His free gift of salvation. And I thank God also for all who prayed for me, those who preached to me and taught me from the Word of God. God also helped me deal with many other issues and things I could not understand on my own.
Knowing who God is and who I am, my desire has been to live for Christ and follow Him, not men, by loving Him, obeying Him and serving Him. It is my prayer to be used by Him "Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" 1 Timothy 2:4 (NKJV). The Bible says: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23 (NKJV). Jesus says: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" John 3:16 (NKJV). And God in Jeremiah 29:11 (NAS) says: "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".
You see, my friend, my Father in heaven has given me hope and a future to be with Him one day in His heaven. He had plans for me and He has plans for you too if you seek Him with all your heart and give your life to Him. He is waiting for you. Time is short. I am here to help you, please don’t hesitate to write. I will pray for you.
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May God bless you today, my friend!