Testimony of Conversion

I was born in 1972 and raised in a Catholic family in the northern part of Jordan. I actively participated in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches near our house, and I also attended the Adventist school, where I prayed with them on Saturdays in addition to praying in the main church with my family. Despite my efforts to please God and my mother’s encouragement to do so, I always felt that God was not pleased with me. I believed that by doing more, I could earn His approval. Even though I maintained high moral standards, I sought additional ways to seek God’s satisfaction, such as cleaning the church with the nuns. However, these temporary moments of joy were always overshadowed by a sense of God’s disapproval.

Every day, I would pray at home in front of the statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary, lighting candles and incense. During Mary’s month celebration, I would place roses in front of the statue of Mary. Yet, despite all my efforts, I couldn’t shake the feeling of disapproval. I also tried to assist the priest during Sunday Masses by serving at the altar. This internal struggle between seeking God’s approval and feeling His disapproval persisted until the middle of 1986, just before our move to Amman. It was during this time that my uncle, who had been studying in Bulgaria, brought his atheist wife to visit us. Her atheistic ideas made me question my beliefs as a child or teenager. Fueled by my sense of God’s disapproval, I concluded that if He wasn’t satisfied with all that I did, perhaps He didn’t exist. In a defining moment, I knelt in front of the statues of the Virgin and Christ and uttered these words: “This is the last time I prostrate before you because I no longer believe that you exist. And if you are God, show yourself to me.” I longed for a tangible, visual revelation.

Afterward, I removed the altar from our house, stopped going to church, and ceased praying. In 1986, we moved from our home town in the north, to the capital, Amman, where I embarked on a new struggle to find my identity and make friends in an unfamiliar place with no acquaintances or relatives. In my search for companionship, I fell in with the wrong crowd. For a whole year, I indulged in various teenage sins and adopted rebellious behavior that deviated from the moral values instilled in me at home. I tried to hide this, but eventually, my actions were exposed.

One significant event occurred in the middle of 1987 when I pursued a relationship with a girl in our neighborhood. She politely evaded my pursuit. One day, one of my troublesome friends informed me that the girl attended some Christian meetings in a house across from his. Intrigued, I went to see her, but she wasn’t there. Nevertheless, I discovered that it was hosted by a man from my tribe. Learning that we were from the same family, they warmly welcomed me. Two simultaneous meetings were held in the house, one for adults and one for youth in a side room. Curiosity led me to join the adult meeting, where I heard fragments of the Bible from a late pastor in Jordan. Although I initially lacked interest and understanding, I distinctly remember the end of one discourse. He posed thought-provoking questions like, “If you went to sleep and never woke up, where would you be? If you were hit by a car while returning home and died, where would you end up?” I listened to these words as if they held no significance, but before leaving the house, they gave me a small booklet titled “The Four Spiritual Laws.” As I made my way home, I hesitated to cross the street, which I had done countless times before. A voice inside me echoed, “What if a car runs you over and you die?” I realized I had developed a fear of death. Another voice inside me questioned, “What if you sleep and never wake up?” Unable to sleep out of fear, I started reading the booklet.

It was around that time that I began to understand God’s plan, His love, and how Christ had shed His blood for my forgiveness. I realized that I couldn’t work to earn His approval; He had already done the work to give me life. I understood that death wasn’t as terrifying if I accepted it and that God had a plan for my life. Gradually, the pastor of that church sermons started to make sense. At the end of one gathering, a prayer was offered for those who wanted to surrender their lives to Christ. For the first time, I knelt not in front of a statue or a picture, but before the unseen God. He had fulfilled my challenge when I said, “If you are God, show yourself to me.” He revealed Himself to me, opened my eyes, and removed the blinders. I realized the depth of my sin in light of God’s righteousness.

Following this significant event, I committed to attending the home church meetings. However, after three gatherings, an unexpected situation arose. I arrived at the usual meeting place only to find out that the gathering had been halted due to complaints from the neighbors. As a new and young believer, I was unaware of the new arrangement for meeting locations, where the meetings were moved from house to house each week. Consequently, I distanced myself from that group and stopped attending their meetings. Since I hadn’t fully committed to being a disciple, I returned to my old way of life. Unfamiliar with how a believer should act, this phase lasted for about two and a half years. During this time, I experienced the depths and escalation of sin in my life. I indulged in every dimension of sin alongside a group of friends.

Amidst this period, I recall a paradox. While I would enjoy sin and engage in it as if it were natural, a different sentiment would arise when I was alone, away from the influence of my friends who fueled my sinful behavior. In those moments, I felt remorse and despised myself for each evil deed, replacing the fleeting pleasure of sin with guilt. I would ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” Despite these feelings, they would fade the following day, and I would return to my misguided path. This pattern continued for two and a half years. Yet, God, who never abandons His children, was watching over me, ensuring that I experienced the ugliness of sin firsthand. He had plans for me, which eventually led me back to attending church.

One day, I learned that a house in my neighborhood had been rented to serve as a church. Intrigued, I decided to visit the place. To my surprise, the house had been rented by the same group I had initially prayed with. It was as if I had been waiting for this opportunity. Consequently, change started to take root, and I became one of the few young men in the church, alongside two or three peers of my age. And so, this marked the spark and the beginning of my journey in serving God.

Call to Ministry

Since the early signs of spiritual growth appeared in my life before the church, I became actively involved in various ministries. I took responsibility for the youth meetings and trained youth to serve in Sunday schools. Gradually, the church’s pastor began to rely on me for many matters, including leading public worship services.

Amidst these rapid advancements in my spiritual life, the pastor started encouraging me to study theology to become more qualified for ministry. However, I always resisted, expressing my desire to be a faithful church attendee and servant while living a regular life rather than that of a minister. I had plans for my life, intending to study law and specialize in international law. My dream was to pursue this path in the Soviet Union since it offered full scholarships for youth in Jordan. I even began studying Russian at the Soviet Cultural Institute in Amman to prepare myself for the work of ministry.

After completing the first year of language study, I received a scholarship to study in the Soviet Union with my desired specialization through the “Jordanian-Russian Friendship Grant.” It was all falling into place, but life had a different plan. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the same year I completed high school caused all scholarships and commitments from the Soviet Cultural Institute to be canceled.

Despite the disappointment, my church’s pastor encouraged me to trust that God had another plan, one I needed to submit to.Throughout this time, my church’s pastor and others around me kept asking why God was closing these study opportunities and if I could hear His voice. Though I felt God leading me through prayer and their counsel, I was resistant to the path they saw for me. However, during one church meeting, a guest speaker from Egypt delivered a message from Luke 9, focusing on Jesus’ call to discipleship and sending them out to preach the Kingdom. It felt like the words were directed personally at me, despite the speaker not knowing me beforehand. At the end of the meeting, he approached me, saying he felt the Lord was speaking through him to deliver a message meant specifically for me. Unable to ignore the evident calling and the voice of the Lord in my prayers and through the church’s pastor, I decided to abandon part of my dream and began studying a different major, Business Administration. I excelled in my studies, but the call to ministry persisted.

In a turning point during one of my prayer sessions, I read from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 4, where Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow Him, and they left everything to obey His call. It struck me deeply, and I realized I had to leave behind my reliance on studies and my family’s desires for me to pursue theological education and become a servant of the Lord.

In 1994, I made the decision to leave my studies and rely on God to provide for my theological education expenses. I began studying theology at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) in Lebanon and completed my bachelor’s degree in 1997. Upon finishing my degree from ABTS, I also started working in biblical education at a Baptist school in Amman, Jordan, in addition to pastoring a local church. This year, the Lord called me to plant a new church in a new area that has roughly 450,000 people, the majority of whom are Muslims, with no witness to the gospel and no church of any kind. I trust in God in this new journey to open doors and provide for His work.