The Voice

Through the confusion of his young life, God spoke clearly

Farid distinctly remembers his family’s village where he was a little boy dreaming of doing something big in life.  That was before the war, back when he didn’t know what a bomb was, in the days he never worried about dying young. But the horror his family experienced plunged them into the refugee world.  When he finally was placed in a school in a neighboring country, it had been three years since he’d stepped into a classroom.  

“It was hard. I had to learn a new  language.  I was never in the right class for my age. I was angry, confused, too shaken to relate to people.  Some said I was autistic,”  Farid remembers.

One day a friend invited him to a meeting at a Learning Center where he heard fascinating stories about the prophets.  “I didn’t know it was a Christian place.  I didn’t even know what a Christian was.”  But his father found out and refused to let him return.

Of course Farid didn’t do well in his classes at school.  He ran with the wrong crowd, fought with his teachers, then was blamed for something he didn’t do and was kicked out. He was 16 with nowhere to go.  

Once again, his friend invited him to the Learning Center, but this time to take classes.  His father reluctantly agreed.  It meant another language change.  However, that didn’t keep him from arguing with his teachers about things he was learning about God and then turning around and arguing their side with his father at home.  

He realized something was unusual when one day in the middle of a heated discussion about their family’s faith his father demanded, “Stop!  We will never talk about this again.”  Farid stopped arguing but he kept listening to his teachers at the Learning Center.  What he was learning made sense, but he had lots of questions–and nowhere to ask them.

One day one of his teachers at the Learning Center had an idea.  “Come with me to a club where you can learn many new things!”  That’s how he first experienced Pathfinders.  The honors intrigued him.  The director of the club, Rafael, was kind.  He met new friends.  ­

Then COVID struck and everything closed.  He lost contact with his Pathfinder friends.  He found a building near his home where he could get internet to do his classwork.  A worker there invited him to a Bible study.  It wasn’t long before they were meeting three or four times a week.  “It was intense,” remembers Farid.  “But I couldn’t understand it at all. The things we studied were so complicated,  I thought my head would explode.”  The pressure even increased when the worker  kept urging Farid to tell his parents what he was learning and to get baptized.  “I just couldn’t do that” Farid admitted.  “The very thought scared me.  I quit those studies.”  

Discouragement set in.  He was trying to prepare to take the exam for his high school diploma, but it wasn’t going well.  He had no work and no skill to find work. He was isolated.  “I decided my life was thrown out, with no chances.  I was alone.” 

One day, even though his parents thought he was leaving the house to pray, he headed down the street for a soda, pleading and crying the whole way, “Help me, God! Show me what to do with my life.  Show me the right way, please!”  That’s when he thought of Rafael, the Pathfinder director who had been so kind to him.

A friend arranged for them to meet.  “I was planning to talk to him about my schooling,” Farid remembers, “but instead out of my mouth came ‘I want to know more about Jesus.'”  Immediately Farid regretted what he’d said.  He was afraid that his brother, who was standing nearby, had heard him.  What would his parents do if his brother told them?   

But from his first meeting with Rafael, Farid felt peace in place of the pressure he had felt while studying the Bible with others.  Perhaps it was because Rafael promised to keep Farid’s interest private.  Maybe it was also because Farid understood what he was learning–and he wanted to find out more.  

At the end of one of their studies, Farid blurted out, “I want to be baptized.”  Once again, he was gripped with fear.  Why had he even said that?  How could he possibly make a public decision for Jesus?  His father had once told him of a dream where a being had said he had permission to kill anyone who led his family astray.  Farid’s mind blurred with confusion.  

That night, as he dropped onto the sofa where he usually slept, he could hear his father shouting.  With a sense of terror, he tried not to think what would happen if his father knew what he was considering.  He felt trapped.  Pressing his face into the sofa cushion, he hoped no one would hear him crying.  

Farid  was dozing off to sleep, his face sticky with tears, when he was startled by a voice, “You are a new person.”  He sat up  and peered into the darkness.  His brother was still asleep on the floor beside the sofa.  He wondered if he’d cried himself into hearing things.   As he dozed off, the voice came again, “You are a new person.”  Worried, he shuffled across the room to the front door.  Nobody was on the porch, nobody was on the street.  

That’s when he realized, God was speaking to him.  “You are a new person.”  The words cut through his sadness, his confusion.  His mind cleared.  He felt relief, change, hope.  He was no longer Farid, the slow refugee, the trouble maker, the frustrating son.  God was promising that he was a new person!

With a new sense of freedom and peace, Farid continued meeting with Rafael.  He felt the strength to make a decision for Jesus.  Together they planned a quiet baptism in keeping with the promise God had given him that night.  He decided he wanted to live like a new person for the rest of his life.

Farid has met more battles since then.  He has seen more victories.  He knows some of the challenges he still faces.  But He leaves it all to God.  Whatever is ahead, he longs to serve God in some way, however simple, and to live the new life God has offered him.