Alliance News Feed – Ali’s Transformation, Part 2
Over the next year, I passed through the village where Ali lived many times en route to another ministry site, each time stopping to chat with him alongside the road for a few minutes. I realized he was searching for more than just money or independence—he was trying to establish his self-worth.
After a year, he returned home but without much further direction on what he wanted to do. I found an opportunity to enroll him in a Christian-based training program for tailoring. It was geared for youth from impoverished or persecuted backgrounds.
Lessons in Personal Responsibility
The effects were immediate. Ali’s self-worth grew enormously. He would come over after school to show me his projects and good grades. He beamed with pride, as I complimented his sewing. For the first time, he spoke clearly and understandably and kept up a conversation.
Self-worth without personal responsibility does not get you very far though, and this was the next layer of growth Ali had to learn. Serge, the director of the school, helped him find an internship alongside a school graduate, who now had her own shop.
Within a few months though, Ali was no longer coming to work regularly. Serge investigated and found that Ali was skipping work, both at the shop and at home, causing his boss and his father to be angry with him.
Serge mediated between them all and used his influence on Ali to teach him about the importance of being responsible.
Last fall, Ali started his second year of school. Serge reported seeing huge changes in his life. He is now a happy, confident kid, who now just seems to talk a bit too much. He never misses school or work without calling ahead, he helps at home, and he continues to show talent as a tailor.
Of course, God was not about to leave Himself out of the story. Ali had grown up attending a strict religious school, which focused on memorization of rules and texts. Whenever we talked about God, Ali wasn’t much interested. He preferred to leave that subject behind him, along with other bad memories.
Then later in the year, he told me he’d overheard his boss talk about her relationship with Jesus. Ali wanted to know if I could tell him stories about Jesus. I happily obliged, telling him some of my favorites. But he wanted to know even more.
Because of his previous schooling, Ali can read Arabic but doesn’t understand it well; conversely, he cannot read in his own language. So, I gave him a small MP3 audio player with the New Testament recorded in his language.
Soon after that, Ali visited me one evening. As our conversation wore on, I asked him if he’d listened to anything interesting on his MP3 player.
“Oh, yes,” he assured me. “I can now tell you some of Jesus’ stories.”
“Which ones?” I asked.
My face dropped in utter astonishment as Ali quoted for me Matthew chapter 1—word-for-word. Somewhere in the genealogy of Jesus, he looked up and said, “Did I get that name right?” With amusement, since I don’t have the genealogy memorized, I replied I thought he had.
After he finished quoting that section, we talked about his other favorite stories.
As we hopped from one story to another, I realized the Lord had brought Ali’s story to this climactic moment. I invited him into relationship with a personal God of love, a God of healing and transformation, a God who reveals Himself in story—both ancient kind and personal. Ali, without hesitation, accepted.
Ali is growing in his faith. He now attends one of our C&MA churches here in town with a friend he met while working in the tailor shop.
I’m excited about the questions he’s been asking me lately. “How do I pray on my own at home?” “Are you sure I don’t have to do any special movements, like they do in the predominate religion here?”
He is digging in, evaluating the differences between his current and previous way of life.
Sadly, I sense Ali is on the brink of a wave of persecution. As he grows more emboldened in his faith, his father is reacting more negatively.
We do what we can to help him avoid conflict; we also don’t encourage Ali to deny or hide his faith, especially when the Holy Spirit is leading him. At the very least, Ali will be kicked out of his home, but it could be worse. So we are working to prepare Ali for this possibility—emotionally, practically, spiritually.
Please pray for him. Please also pray for Serge and me—we are committed to walking with Ali through whatever trials may come.
Source: Alliance News Feed – Ali’s Transformation, Part 2