I thought it was all made up of fantasies and myths
I was born in Iraq. I come from a mixed religious and cultural family—my dad is an Arab Muslim, but kind of a liberal Muslim, and my mum is Armenian, so she's culturally Christian. My dad had to flee Iraq because of the political problems with Saddam Hussein, so when I was a teenager I was sent to study on my own in Czechoslovakia. I lived there for eight years, and I embraced materialistic philosophy and became an atheist and communist.
To me, religion was basically a waste of time. I had no respect for religion because I thought it was all made up of fantasies and myths: that people twisted things to suit their agendas and they created systems of belief to manipulate weak and disillusioned people.
One day I got very angry and lost my temper with the woman I loved at that time, and the relationship ended—she just left me. And I just couldn't face that loss, I just couldn't deal with it. And that was amazing to me because I had thought I was able to go through life and nothing would phase me, that I could go through any problems. But the reality was that it uncovered my weakness, and I realised that all this inner strength that I believed in was nothing, was worthless.
And I suddenly realised: “I am to be pitied like those people I pitied before.”
I started reading the Bible from the book of Genesis, and later on I was starting to go to church to hear the sermon explaining what the Bible is. And there was this Christianity Explored course, so I decided to go and join it.
Me being from the Middle East, we always have a suspicious mind, we always think there's something not true in what people say. So I tried to ask all the questions to find out if the leaders on my table would tell me the truth or if they would try to manipulate me or try to twist things or soften things up so I would think, “Actually it's not so bad.”
I discovered that no, they were just plainly explaining what the Bible was saying.
And also I just started to realise who the person of Jesus Christ really was. I had had all sorts of ideas about him before; but I started reading his words, I started hearing the stories he said, I started understanding what he did—and he blew me away. I thought: “This is the person I always wanted to be like in my life. I never thought there was anyone who can be like this!” I was totally blown away by his integrity, and the things he did and the things he said.
It was when I went on the day away, which is part of the course, that I just came to the conclusion that I could not keep denying the truth about Christ and who he is. And I just said: “That's it—I don't know what this is going to do to me, but I trust you and I'm ready to follow you whatever and wherever you take me.” And that was it.
Life now has no meaning without Jesus Christ. It's like a journey I am on with him—with the one person who we were created for. I can go walking all my life knowing that in the highs and the lows, in the sorrows and the joys, he is standing there with me, never leaving me or abandoning me.
Not just that: this relationship doesn't end with my death—actually it carries on forever. And that's what I can look forward to—that's what life is all about—not just now but also forever. I will enjoy that loving relationship with Jesus Christ forever.