“If you really want to know me,” the man said, “follow me.”
Thirteen-year-old Fadi* had an unusual dream one night. He was running through a bright, white area when he stumbled upon a big cross. Falling down before it, he began screaming that he was thirsty.
He saw a man emerge from the light holding a glass of water in his outstretched hand. Fadi took the glass and drank until he was satisfied. Then he asked the man who he was. There was no reply. “Who are you?” he cried out again, but again his query was met with silence. Finally, the man spoke. “If you really want to know me,” he said, “follow me.”
Fadi jumped up to follow the man, but as soon as he did, the man disappeared. Then Fadi awoke from his dream.
Three years passed, and Fadi turned 16. He hadn’t thought much about his strange dream until one day when his mother asked him to purchase some eggs. Whenever Fadi’s family wanted eggs, they bought them from a Christian family who lived in an old European church. The church was no longer used for worship because there were few Christians in the area anymore.
While making his purchase, Fadi worked up his courage to ask the family whether he could take a look inside the building. They agreed, and as he walked around, he came upon a collection of old books. He brushed the dust off the covers and discovered that one of the books was written in Arabic.
“When I picked up the book to see what it was, I sensed a voice telling me, ‘This book is for you.’” Fadi said. He borrowed the book and spent the next three days poring over what turned out to be the Gospels of the New Testament. In the book of John, he kept encountering the words “Follow Me,” the exact words he had heard in his dream three years earlier.
“I found God in those pages!” Fadi said, laughing and crying at the same time. “I thought, This must be the same Man who invited me to follow Him in my dream! He has finally shown me who He is!”
Fadi was so happy about his discovery that he wanted to share the good news with his family. But they didn’t share his enthusiasm. Instead, they began to persecute him. Heartbroken, Fadi endured their anger and ridicule until, at the age of 20, he moved away.
In his new location, Fadi found a Christian community who loved and cared for him. He felt a sense of belonging with them and had never felt happier in his life. But it wasn’t long before his family discovered his whereabouts and informed the authorities that he had converted to Christianity.
The authorities detained Fadi on several occasions, but for some reason, they never held him for more than a night or a day. Eventually, he returned to his hometown.
Fadi continued to study his Bible, and as he did, he began to realize that the Christians he knew weren’t adhering to all of its teachings. He searched for a church that closely followed the Bible, and he eventually met a man who was familiar with Adventists. Fadi and the man became friends.
One night, a terrorist organization that had just taken over Fadi’s hometown arrested him. They told him, “Don’t be a Christian, or you will be beheaded.” Once again, Fadi had to flee. He was terribly afraid. “Sadness filled me as I thought about how I might have to leave my family permanently,” he said with tear-filled eyes.
It was at this time that the friend who had told Fadi about Adventists invited him to attend an evangelistic series in a neighboring country. Fadi went to the meetings, intending to stay only a week. Instead, he never returned. He began Bible studies with a pastor, gave his heart to Jesus, and became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Fadi now works as a janitor in the large Adventist school in the area and is interacting with the community refugees. He has made so many friends that when an Adventist goes into the area, the people say, “We know about Adventists because Fadi tells us.” God is using Fadi in a big way to bless the people around him.
Fadi is just one of the thousands of people in the Middle East and North Africa region who have experienced great adversity because of their decisions to worship Jesus. Please pray that these new believers will have the strength to follow Jesus no matter where He leads. And please support mission in this area so that millions who don’t know Him will come to love Him as their dearest friend.
* Name has been changed.