by Kathy Marson
Spokane, Wash., November 18, 2013 -
When Joe and his twin brother Mike were growing up in the Middle East, their mother had a dream that God had a purpose for her boys. At that time she said, “Allah, has a purpose … .” But today she would say something different. This is their story.
When Joe and his brother were 4-years of age, Mike wondered who made the flowers and snowflakes. He wanted to know the God who made these intricate details.
When the twins were 13 years of age, their father moved the family to California. In the USA the family still followed the Islamic faith and were a part of the Muslim community.
Encounter with Jesus
As a teenager, Mike was a devout believer and wanted forgiveness from sins. As others in this belief system sometimes do, Mike punished himself physically to obtain forgiveness, but he felt no peace. One day in a deep depression, he called out to Allah. Finding no relief, he called to God in his native language. He felt a new presence in his room that was full of peace and forgiveness. He knew then that God was real and his sins were forgiven.
A few months later, Mike was again in darkness and depression. His brother Joe was in town and encountered some Christian boys. They said, “Jesus is coming soon. If you can accept Him, you will go to heaven and He will give you eternal life.”
Joe said, “I was near a phone, so I called my brother to tell him about the boys. My brother met with them and accepted Jesus!” Mike was grateful because he had prayed to God and searched for Him. Now he realized it was God in heaven who was leading in his life.
Mike was baptized in a Christian Church. He was told once he was baptized, he would speak in tongues. But coming up out of the water, he had no words to say. He questioned if the gift of tongues was properly understood and continued to pray to find a true church.
Unfortunately when Mike became a Christian at 18 years of age, the family was not supportive of his decision. His twin, Joe, and the rest of his family verbally abused him and made life difficult. Joe said, “I felt a sense of guilt in treating Mike this way. One day I lifted him up off the ground and shook him. It was supernatural strength that I did not have. Later I had a powerful dream that I was on the wrong path and that Jesus was the right path.” Other members of the family had similar dreams and after a few months they stopped the persecution.
Mike was in church one Sunday when a Seventh-day Adventist book salesman stepped up to the pulpit. The pastor had invited him to share books up front and stay after church in case anyone was interested in purchasing them. Mike spoke to the salesman and later he came to study with him. In this way he learned about the Seventh-day Sabbath. Peace fell on his heart. He also studied with the pastor of the Adventist Church. God showed him that Adventist Church was correct church.
Eight Years Later
Joe realized there was power in his brother’s faith in God. He had sensed his need of God and became convicted he should not smoke. He had depression and darkness which he hid by going to parties and enjoying the things of the world.
Joe was now another city in California where his brother Mike was the custodian of an Adventist Church. Joe needed work and so the church also hired him even though he was still smoking. He began to study the Bible with his brother. He also attended meetings at the church where they prayed and sang hymns. It was a sweet experience. Joe realized that cigarettes were his god and as he reflected on his life he felt he was on one side of a white wall and his brother and the church members were on the other side with no way to get across !
“One day an elder of the church was preaching,” said Joe. “My brother invited me to come. As I listened to him, my heart broke, and everything changed for me. The sky was bluer, the trees were greener and I knew it was from God.”
Joe is so thankful that Jesus gave him a fresh start. From his conversion experience, he went on to a small Christian College where he received a 4-year degree in pastoral ministry. He worked in other countries and states in the USA reaching out to people from the Middle East. Joe currently is an Outreach Coordinator in a church in the Pacific Northwest. His brother, Mike, lives nearby.
The family became Adventist Christians. “My mother became an Adventist because she saw how my life had changed,” said Joe. “She loves to tell people about Jesus and is not afraid even though part of the time she lives in a country hostile to Christians.
My father was dying from cancer and came to an Adventist hospital for treatment. He was baptized a year and a half before he died.” Both his sister and older brother also became Adventist Christians.
Today Joe’s mom would say, “It was the God of Heaven who had plans for my sons!”
*Names have been changed to protect the families in this story.