When I was 19, I moved to Sharjah, which is a tiny, very conservative emirate in the United Arab Emirates, in order to study Arabic. I had completed a year and a half of my undergrad in Virginia, and although I regularly attended Intervarsity’s Friday Night Fellowship, it was purely social and my relationship with God was non-existent.
Growing up in a Christian home and attending a religious school, Christianity was all I knew. In my high school world religion course, other religions were presented as dead religions – religions that were significant in the past, but that ultimately were not practiced today.
You can imagine I was in for a shock when I moved to a country where 98% of the population is Islamic and the call to prayer rang out from every direction five times a day. Another religion is alive and well! When did that happen, I wondered.
The year I spent in the Middle East was incredibly difficult. As someone who is obviously not Arab in heritage, I stuck out like a sore thumb, and was under constant scrutiny in regards to politics, society, and religion. But out of that difficulty, my faith, which was almost out of life, fought against the stereotypes and disbelieving attitudes surrounding me and was rekindled by the challenges brought against me. Against the odds and with no intention of my own, I came home a year later with clarity in my belief and renewed faith.
Jesus blessed me with this personal resurrection. I was skeptical of the belief system I was raised in and doubted its application to my life. By witnessing the incredulity others bring toward the Gospel and the life of Jesus, God helped me resolve my own skepticism and resurrected my faith.
The Messenger this month tells several stories of personal experiences of resurrection in their lives. While all the stories and experiences are different, and make me realize how many struggles there are, the common theme is that God is the strength we summon. How blessed we are to have a God who loves us enough to resurrect us from our trials, sin, and death!