“Where is God?” Why does He not show Himself? How is he ? What can He do for me? “.
From my childhood, these questions pursued me. The day I questioned my mother, she had only replied: “God exists … and He punishes evil.” These words had disturbed me, for I was born with a paralyzed arm and asked why God had punished me so. Later, my mother tried to reassure me by saying that it was only people twelve years old and over that God chastened.
How, indeed, could my dear mother, who was very ignorant herself, have been able to furnish better explanations? It must be said that I was born in a Kabyle family, of the Muslim religion, in the north of Algeria. We were practising enough to respect Eid-the-Kebir and Ramadan. I had also been circumcised. So everything seemed to be in order on the religious side, and in France, where we had come to live, we also lived a happy life materially. So why was not I happy?
I was only five when I had my first epileptic fit. I have a particularly vivid and painful memory of it. I was gathering flowers in a meadow when I suddenly lost consciousness and woke to find myself in the hospital. I was later told that without the rapid intervention of a neighbour I would have fallen into a deep ditch. I was now reduced to taking repeated doses of drugs. Unfortunately, my first treatment soon became ineffective. Drugs did not cure my disease, they only alleviated the symptoms. I felt very unhappy and humiliated by my condition. One day, in a moment of extreme discouragement, I swallowed the contents of several tubes of tablets at once. Naively. I thought that a very high dose of medicine could cure me at once. In any case, I say to myself: “Now I am either recovering, or I am dying!”
For a week I was plunged into a deep coma, then slowly came back to life. I understood the madness of my action, and I was ready to face life again, but deep within myself I longed for a better life and world. I was always thirsting to know God! So when two people called themselves Christians came to visit me in the medical-social centre where I was being treated, I listened attentively. However, I soon discovered that their “Christianity” was only a formal religiosity, which, like my own religion, could not satisfy my heart. These people claimed to believe all the teaching of the Bible, but they wanted me to read all kinds of books and periodicals, except the one book, the Bible, on which they said they founded their belief.
Towards the end of my fourteen years, I returned to my house, in a small forest hamlet. One of the inhabitants of this hamlet, a Muslim who had known me for a long time, told me that his work colleague, a forester, often spoke to him about what he called “the things of God.” “He would certainly like to talk with you,” he said. You should go see him.
The next day, therefore, I presented myself with one of my “Christian” books to this forester. I was very well received, but when I asked him about my “book” my new friend took it away without saying a word, then handed me a volume entitled “The Holy Bible.” So here it is, finally, this famous book of which I had heard, but which I had not read. We talked for more than three hours, I stayed for dinner, and then I went home, clasping the precious Bible under my arm, which my host had offered me, after having inscribed this text: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things are past, behold, all things have become new “(1).
On the way back from other verses came back to me, including: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ, our Lord “(2). From that moment I understood my situation before God, I saw that I was lost because of my sin, which separated me from Him. My heart was also touched by the goodness and love of God, who wished to give free salvation that could never be earned or won. Only JESUS CHRIST could give me a reason to live and the only thing He asked of me was to turn away from sin, through repentance from the heart, and personally receive Jesus, the Savior, sent by God to be saved.
On this return journey, shortly before my arrival at home, everything took on a different meaning in my life. I had a completely new view of life. I suddenly realized that my real country was neither France, nor Algeria, nor any other country, but it was heaven, a wonderful place where the God who loves me reigns and accepts me as I am, because of Jesus, who has paid for my sins.
I could not, of course, tell all the experiences of this new life that has been mine for years now. My story would become far too long. I want to say how happy I am in my dealings with other Christians. My old Algerian and French friends laughed at me when I told them about my changed life and my new happiness in Jesus, and little by little made me understand that they no longer considered me as one of them.
I sought the company of other men and women who, like me, loved the Lord Jesus. Today, I am very encouraged to know Algerians and Frenchmen who are all one in Christ. We gather for worship, prayer and study of the Bible. The bond that unites us is solid and lasting, because we draw strength and joy in this communion with the Lord Jesus and we love one another with a love that seeks to give more than to receive.
The questions that bothered me so much when I was little found their answer . Ask me, “Where is God? “And I reply:” God is in heaven, but He is also near me, in the person of Jesus “; Or “Why does He not show Himself? “I say,” Because sin puts a barrier between God and sinful men, but He lets himself be found by all who sincerely seek Him. He has revealed himself to my heart through Jesus, and dwells there forever by His Spirit. ” And if you want to know what they can do for you.
I affirm with complete assurance: “He has saved and changed me. He made me a new being, He leads my life, He makes me happy. That’s what He can and wants to do for you as well. What more is needed? “Ahmed M.