How Did I Become A Christian?
In a blue-skied Mediterranean afternoon, in my parent’s bungalow situated in the centre of a sudden rural island, I made my way into life, totally vulnerable, and completely oblivious to what was awaiting me. Since then, I have been ‘drifting’ in and out of consciousness or true awakening, to come, each time, to a particular type of awareness shaped by my life experiences, the degree of maturity and the level of my intellect. The ride in the boat of childhood was very rough – I was a victim of sexual and domestic abuse – hence the birth of my rebel juvenile attitude towards life and toward Allah.
I had considered my life to be traumatic and without meaning from a very early age, which led to my first attempt of suicide at the age of six. Soon later, I remember vividly seeing a picture of a little girl like me, kneeling in front of Jesus, praying with her eyes shut and a halo of peace surrounding her calm Mona Lisa – like face. I felt touched and wished secretly to be able to enjoy a similar relationship.
When I was only 12 though, I decided Allah was too cruel to me and to women in general and I rendered myself indifferent to him ever since, not knowing that this fundamental act of rebelliousness was to rid me of my, then, only available support and my opportunity for personal growth. This has also led me, I believe, to spend an important part of my youth in poverty, affectional hunger and mental and psychological confusion. From then on, I lumbered through life from hardship to another, and from one mistake to the next. I was absolutely lonely in spite of the number of friends and acquaintances around me. I was a failure despite my qualification of higher education. My heart was empty and miserable regardless of my social status.
Occasionally, like now, I pondered upon my condition and examined myself, questioning why this was happening to me, where did I go wrong and how objective my internal experience was. Although my situation was not relatively the worst if put in comparison with all the miseries that humanity had to suffer, I realised that my concerns were real and evolved around truly negative experiences. Nevertheless, whatever answers I reached back then were not able to alleviate my hardship and improve my condition, until I met Him again, and this time, it was for good.
In the middle of my confusion, misery and the lack of physical and social stability, I had to move North to escape a failed marriage, social persecution and to be able to find work. A year later, my life was still far from stable and my heart was yearning for true agape love like never before.
And then I saw Jesus in the form of a Church, in a town full of foreigners and oak trees. I was just passing by, but the assembly of Church people leaving the building on Sunday afternoon stole my heart. I longed for God’s unconditional love, support and forgiveness, but, like when I was still a six-year-old, I couldn’t reach for Him just yet. I still believed that Jesus was unapproachable and that because I was prohibited from changing my tradition, this wish of being His own; of being Christian, can never materialise in my life.
A few months later, I went for a job interview in a school during which I learnt that the organisation was a Christian charity for children with special need and that my interviewer was a nun! The interview was very informal and this encouraged me to seize the opportunity and know more about the Christian faith. Although eventually, I did not work with the school as I was offered a position in the capital before I heard from them, I was handed over the New Testament at the end of the interview (something locals were prohibited from having), and later on, details of the priest who led the service in the city’s main cathedral.
Sitting now in my favourite chair, considering calmly what took place back then, is great evidence that everything that happened up to now, positive or negative, was in my opinion for a good reason. I feel that finding Jesus was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. But being guarded and surrounded, as I was, by Islamic tradition in a Muslim country, it would have never been possible for me to surrender my life to His will, had it not been a mess. As for personal growth, I found that I had a lot to catch up with, especially when comparing myself to His Grace and when thinking about what He has done for me. So, finding Jesus was not the end for me but the beginning of a fresh new life that although it is not free of challenges, I would not trade it for anything.