My name was Empty.
I was walking down the street when a man selling books stopped me.
“This is for you,” he said as he handed me a booklet. I read the front: Injil. Shaking my head, I handed the booklet back.
“No, this doesn’t work for me,” I said. “It may work for you, but not for me.” I walked away and left him with his Injil, his booklet telling the story of a man named Jesus.
My name was Depressed.
Heroin became my closest friend and worst enemy, stripping me of every hope except for the goal of getting more heroin. My biggest dream was to cross the border into Afghanistan to work in a heroin factory, not for money but for more drugs.
Somehow along the way, I stumbled into a fellowship called “12 Steps,” a group that taught me to accept that I had a problem by telling others I had a problem and obtaining help in this way. As I confessed that I was a heroin addict and was powerless in the face of its hold on my life, I received the power to leave it behind. This group showed me there was a Higher Power that could help me. I learned about a God that is kind, merciful, and loving. I learned of a God who chooses you.
My name was Lost.
And I did not choose this God. Dissatisfied with everything and left with an aching and persistent emptiness, I made a move from my home country of Iran to England, in pursuit of what would fill the void. In the town center stood a church, and it was very peaceful. I would go there to light a candle and pray. I did not know who I was praying to, but I sensed someone was always listening to me.
While living in England, I made a friend who one day asked me, “Do you know Jesus? Do you know He came to save you?”
“No,” I told her. “It works for you to know this Jesus, but it doesn’t work for me. I have my own god.” Anytime she tried to open this door, I would close it and wanted to hear nothing of this Jesus she spoke about.
One day I had a dream of two families, one rich and one poor. I wanted to be with the rich family, but they rejected me. I did not want to spend time with the poorer family, but they continually welcomed me and showed me love. Confused about my dream, I shared it with a friend at a local charity that served the marginalized in Manchester. Upon hearing my dream, my friend asked me, “Have you gone to church?” I told him I would go to light a candle and pray when I had problems.
“Who do you pray to?” he asked me.
“My god,” I replied.
“Describe your god to me.”
I could not.
So he invited me to join him at a Sunday service at his church. When I told him that his religion would not work for me, he challenged me: “If you haven’t tried it, how do you know it doesn’t work?”
That Sunday I got home from my job at 5 a.m. and went to sleep. Usually, I wake up at 2 or 3 p.m., but somehow, I woke up at 8 a.m., remembering that I had promised my friend I would join him at church. I tried to ignore this and go back to sleep, but I could not. I joined my friend at church that morning.
During the worship time, the leader told the congregation to close our eyes. I closed my eyes, and I felt electricity and warmth over my whole body. I felt as though I would fall down, and I left the church as fast as I could before I fell to the ground.
At home I asked God to talk to me because I was confused. I went back to sleep for a few hours before I had to go back to work that afternoon.
As I slept, I dreamt again. I was in the town center, and it was full of people. Three men walked up to me. The man in the middle was tall with long hair and beautiful eyes. He looked me in the eyes and told me, “You are beautiful.” Why would this man say that?
I ran from the men, fleeing through the town center, but within seconds, they were there. The man said it again, “You are beautiful.” When I tried to run, my feet could not move.
I woke up, and I knew in that moment I had to call my friend, the one who kept trying to tell me about Jesus. She answered, and I shared with her my dream about the strange man who kept coming after me and telling me, “You are beautiful.” She started to cry upon hearing my dream.
She told me the story of a shepherd who had 100 sheep, lost 1 sheep, and left 99 sheep behind to find the 1. He left everything to find the 1.
My name is Found.
Jesus found me, and after so many years, so much searching, I found Him too. I started going to a Bible study, learning more about Jesus, and I decided to get baptized. I am a new man.
My name is Chosen.
God chose me, and now I choose Him. I used to be empty, but now I am filled with hope and a purpose. I have seen many miracles God has done in my life, but the greatest miracle is His giving me peace and His Holy Spirit. Just as He chose me, I want others to know this message that He also chooses them. I cannot keep it to myself.