I will never forget the first time I met Ali (ALL-ee). He showed up to the freshman Bible study at the University of Findlay in January 2022. During a small group discussion, he started to ask questions about what we believed as Christians and explained that he was a Muslim from Iran, believing that Jesus was a great prophet but nothing more. Myself and the other leader I was with explained the gospel to him, that Jesus was more than just a great prophet, but the Savior of the world. I remember thinking to myself “He is new to this country and school and he didn’t know what he was coming to, I doubt I’ll ever see him again.”
God had a different plan in mind, however. The next week of Bible study came and Ali showed up and continued asking more questions. He continued coming to Bible studies, talking to other leaders in Campus Ministry and attending church with some friends he had met in Campus Ministry. About 4 months later, in May 2022, Ali had made the decision to follow Jesus and was baptized during the last Revive service of the semester at UF.
Before his baptism he shared his testimony:
“I was born in a Muslim family, in Iran. Although my parents were not religious, living in an environment where the government is Islamic will leave you no choice, but absorbing their influence. It has been more than four decades that Iran has been in the heat of political and social problems, and my parents, my sister, and I were not excluded from that. Shia Islam is part of Iranian culture, and all the laws ruling this country are based on Islam, meaning that the other religions are under their control, and they are in minority. However, I’m not here to talk about history, but share how I found peace.
When I came here to the US, my goal was not to become Christian at all. I had no idea that I was going to change my belief. But when I met the Campus Ministry, and the awesome people there, I started to become interested in Christianity, and wanted to know what it is about. I used to think that I knew enough about the Christian belief, but by the time I realized that, I also realized I had been ignorant. My friends in the Campus Ministry and Pastor Matt helped me and explained to me the basis of Christianity and what Jesus has done for us. There were lots of occasions that I had to compare that to Islam, and I almost lost myself. I lost every idea I used to have about God. But I took one step back and thought to myself about the fact that I can sit here and think about the differences till the end of the world. It will not change anything. Then I thought about the two commandments of Christ, “Love God, and love your neighbor.” That love changed all those equations in my mind. God, with all His glory, humbled himself and came down because He loved us. He was betrayed and crucified, yet He prayed for our forgiveness. I hadn’t seen or heard anything like that. That was what changed me and revolutionized my belief. The other thing was God’s grace. I could not imagine how important it is in Christianity. The fact that He forgave us while we are sinful and arrogant. His Grace encompasses our lives while we do not deserve it.
Before I knew the Messiah, I was lost and unaware of that. The society I grew up in was full of hatred and everyone was breaking the other. Believing in Christ and following Him was the only thing I needed in my life. Now I think that He was just waiting for me all these years. If He is calling us to love Him and love His people, if this love is what I can see in this community, then of course I will follow Him. Because He took my hand and pulled me up from the deepest and darkest ocean of wilderness.”
Ali is now faithfully serving as a leader of the Tuesday night coed Bible study at UF and can be found worshiping Sunday mornings during the second service at our North Main Campus. If you would like to hear more from him about his story of coming to Christ, he would be more than happy to share with you!