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Ali is the oldest of nine children but he doesn’t have many warm memories of being part of such a large family. They teased him and said that he looked different than everyone else in the family. His mother said she hated him and that he was the child who resembled her the least. He always felt rejected by his family and cried a lot as a child.
For four months every year, Ali worked as a shepherd. This began when he was eight years old and continued until he was 18. He took the sheep to the mountains and since he spent a lot of time alone he wanted someone to talk to so he “created a god” in his heart. This god was like a friend to Ali. Ali would have lengthy conversations with him saying things like, “How beautiful are your creations,” as he looked at the flowers, the sun, the rocks and the grass. He would also ask this god questions like, “Where does an apple’s sweetness come from?” because he believed that there was a God who made everything good.
When he was 20, he started drinking alcohol. By the time he was 25, he was an alcoholic. Sometimes he started drinking before nine in the morning. When he arrived home, his wife often asked him if he had been drinking. This made him angry so he began beating her daily. His children witnessed this abuse and were afraid to come home after school so they would often go to a friend’s house until they knew their father was asleep. Ali wanted to stop drinking and he felt bad that he was abusing his wife. He decided to move to Saud1 Arabia to work in construction because he’d heard that alcohol was forbidden there. However, the first night he was in Saud1 Arabia he found alcohol and drank it.
Although Ali wasn’t a religious man—his family said they were Muslims but they didn’t really know much about the religion—he decided to go to Mecca, hoping that this would free him from alcoholism. He says, “I made a decision in my heart. I am going to be a true pilgrim. I am going to be a true Muslim and I will quit drinking.” The first night he was at Mecca, Ali had a dream. In the dream, Jesus took Ali’s hand and said, “You belong to me.” He also put His finger on Ali’s forehead and said, “You need to leave this place and go right now.” When Ali woke up, he felt like he was floating so he touched the carpet to make sure that he was still on the ground. He continued to hear Jesus’ voice saying, “You need to come with me. You belong to me.” Ali’s friends saw a shiny spot on his forehead where Jesus had touched him, but when Ali looked in the mirror, he couldn’t see it. (This spot on his forehead looked like “sim,” a glittery type of makeup that brides in Turke7 wear.)
Ali decided to continue his pilgrimage. However, his one-month old car would not start. He kept hearing Jesus’ voice saying, “You need to go from here.” Once he changed his mind and decided to leave Mecca, his car started. He went home to his apartment and heard the same voice again. This time Jesus told him that he should go back to Turke7. Within three days, he was at a “welcome home” party in Turke7. Again, he heard the voice. This time, Jesus told him to tell everyone at the party that he was now a Christian. He did this, but the people didn’t really take him seriously.
It wasn’t until several years after the dream that Ali began to understand what it really meant to be a Christian. He was listening to the radio when he heard a voice say, “Jesus died, rose from the dead after three days and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” He called for his wife and told her that he had found the voice of Jesus—inside the radio. Through this radio program, he received Bible study material and a New Testament. He was 38 years old at the time and says the day he received the New Testament in the mail was “maybe the happiest moment of my life.” After completing various correspondence courses, Ali and his family moved to Istanbul so he could attend Bible school.
He continues to share his Christian faith openly and unashamedly. Alcohol no longer has dominion over him, and he cherishes the wife he once treated so badly. Truly, he has become a “new creation in Christ.”
Language: Bisaya / Cebuano
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