Miray is my friend. We first met when she was a law student trying to pay her university tuition while supporting eight brothers and sisters. She is brilliant, but her life has been hard.
Even as a student, she lived under the constant pressure to make money. She worked long hours as a tutor–even when she wasn’t well. She took heavy medication to relieve her excruciating headaches just so she could keep working. Money drove her. Money was her life. She decided money was what made her life meaningful. But she was lonely.
How unlikely that Miray and I would ever become friends. We speak different languages, we come from different countries, and her childhood faith prohibits her from associating with me.
But years earlier she had been an exchange student in Korea, my home country, and had even learned Korean during her year there. So it was natural that even in a large city in the Middle East she found it easy to connect with any Korean she met. We saw how brilliant and inquisitive she was. But we could also see her loneliness. And her anger.
She didn’t understand why her parents put such a heavy responsibility on her as the family’s head. She resented God for the burdens of her life and the meaninglessness of her existence. For so many reasons, she questioned the faith that she had been taught. Somewhere in her logic she decided she would find the true God.
So she investigated many religions and sects and met people of all different faiths. That’s why it wasn’t unusual for her to ask us about Adventism. We explained what we believed from God’s word. She heard about the love of God, about His care as our Creator. She learned about God our Father, Jesus our Savior, and the work of the Holy Spirit. She even studied the prophecies and how they have been fulfilled. She learned Jesus was crucified out of His love for us and has promised to come again.
But because her life was filled with so many pressures, so many ups and downs, we often lost contact with each other. Weeks and months would pass between Bible studies. Many times I felt like giving up on even trying to be her friend. I didn’t know if she really wanted to be in touch. Each time we’d reconnect she’d be so sorry for not having bothered to even message. I continued to pray for God to help her through all her burdens and to touch her life. I longed to see her respond to Jesus.
I was pleased when she called one day, once again apologizing profusely for being out of touch. This time, though, she was different. She explained she had stopped observing the rituals of her childhood faith; she wanted to know more about the true God. She asked if she could study the Bible with us clear to the end. She declared that she was ready to become a Christian.
I was shocked as I listened to her. She admitted that she had often felt uncomfortable about some of the Bible’s teachings and didn’t understand difficult things like Jesus’ divinity. But she confessed that she now believed in Jesus as the Son of God. In fact, she said she wanted to be baptized.
Of course, even though I was thankful that our friendship had been renewed and her heart encouraged, I needed to understand.
“Why have you suddenly come to this decision, Miray?” I asked. I knew we hadn’t been studying together; I had even wondered if she had turned her back on everything she had learned. Even our friendship had seemed to evaporate. It had been five years of ups and down, stress, discouragement, and then silence.
“Oh, my friend,” Miray quickly responded. “I know this is the right thing to do. Even in my dream, I saw myself being baptized!” Her decision was made. God had confirmed to her in a way she understood–a dream, a safe picture, a reassurance that she would be OK.
Less than a month after our conversation, Miray was baptized. She was so happy. What had God been waiting for? He had spent five years bringing to birth one precious soul. To Him, Miray was valuable, worth the investment from the very beginning. He had not wasted time being with her in her search, bringing spiritual truths to her brilliant mind, and finally coming to her in a dream. At each step, He did what she needed in order for Him to heal and re-create a new child of God. We give Him glory!
Miray is a newborn, a baby in Christ. She is a spiritual child who still needs a parent’s care. She is a friend taking her first steps with Jesus. Please pray for her. Pray that our attention and helping hand will not weary or be distracted from what God will give us for her.
Pray for yourself too, and the people around you who seem to be slow in learning, slow in deciding. Your part is to give patience and friendship and to trust that God is working. To be honest, five years is not too long to wait for someone’s upside-down life to turn right again, and for God to lead a hurting person to experience peace in Him!