According to a lot of people, a testimony is the story of how someone got off drugs, quit smoking, or walked away from an alcoholic lifestyle. But in reality, a testimony is simply the account of a life transformed by the power of God. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. No matter what your background may be, when the Great Potter re-shapes you and forms you to be useful for His kingdom, this is a great testimony. God sharpens our characters and the way we act or think to be other persons—the persons He has called us to be.
I was born and raised in Egypt. God has blessed me with a wonderful family, my wife Nivin, our two daughters and a son.
I was born in a Catholic Christian home and grew up going to church every Sunday with my family, but did not have a real relationship with God. In 1972 at the age of 11, I got saved and since that time I have lived for God. Like any other person, I passed through many victories and defeats, ups and downs, but I was with the Lord all the time.
By the time of my salvation, my mother got cancer and the life of my family completely changed. We had struggles, sadness, fear of death, financial problems and an all-around uncomfortable life. I loved my mom very much; she was my mom, my friend and everything in my life. God used this experience as a tool to teach me how to pray, wait on God, have patience and more passion for Him. I experienced the answer to those prayers, as Mom lived 20 years with cancer. That was a miracle!
In 1996, I met my wife, when we worked for Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC). In May of 2003, we knew it was God’s plan for us to leave Egypt and move to the United States. We prayed and had quiet assurance in our hearts that God would open the door of His choosing. Then, we received a call from a man we never met before. He was the one who sent us to Heartland. When we came here, we found that the community is completely different from what we had previously known all of our lives.
I cannot share my testimony without telling this story. During the first week after we decided to stay in Heartland, I had an unforgettable meeting with Pastor Charlie. He talked to me about my life and future. His words were in agreement with the words that the Holy Spirit had already spoken to me in my prayer. I was surprised and had to ask myself how this man could know all of these things about me. This was the final confirmation for me that God wanted us to be at Heartland.
We do believe that God chose this place for us, a place we never heard about, to be the place of teaching and reforming. When God wants to stretch someone, He will put him in a different circumstance to test his character—this is what God did for me. God, as the Great Potter, uses a lot of tools to do His work and He used the people in my life to bring about change in me. Sometimes, we do not like or accept the people around us, but I learned a lesson in this. I can accept the differences in people not only as my brothers and sisters in one kingdom, but as tools to bring correction, “as iron sharpens iron.”
God also began to talk to me about some things in my life that I thought I had no need of. Pastor Charlie always preaches about holiness and in the beginning, I did not think it was for me. After all, I never drank, smoked, took drugs, or had any unlawful relationships before I married. But God showed me that even I am in need of such a message. Holiness is not only about not doing certain things; it is much more than that. God has been purifying me more and more to hate sin, rebuke it, and treat it like Jesus did when He walked the earth. God is also taking me to deeper levels of trust in Him by teaching me not to depend upon my own practical mind.
When God takes everything from you, then you just look at God and His work He is doing in you. That is what God has done with me. He taught me to focus only on Him and not the ministry or the work; He has to be the first in everything. I used to preach all of these things but now I actually live it. God wanted to take me to a deeper way of understanding and living.
Heartland has provided me the opportunity to get my MA degree, to teach in Heartland Christian College and I also teach a Bible class at Heartland Christian Academy Boarding School. As a small group leader and a teacher/professor, this provides me the opportunity to tell about God’s work in my life on a daily basis, plus God’s faithfulness towards me. In addition to this, I am part of our church’s mission team. Each year, I help organize a group of people to go to my home country, Egypt. Pastor Charles preaches to thousands of people about the love of Christ. We support the people of Egypt in many different areas including reaching out to many Muslims, giving out wheelchairs, clothes and medicine to those with special needs, and many other things. I also get to help with translation on our trips to Arabic-speaking countries.
I cannot deny or forget the great mercy that God gave us through this place to support us through this process. The beautiful house we live in, the happiness of my kids in their school and with their teachers, their friends, the love and support of the people here, the ministry we are doing here and overseas, the continual support from Pastor Charles and his wife Laurie, plus many other things.
Now, Heartland is not only the place we live, but it is my home town, and the people here are our family. Here, God reformed us completely. As the Potter, He took us into His hand, destroyed the whole vessel of our past, and then rebuilt us again. The one who accepts God’s molding will gain, but the one who refuses it refuses the hand of God and His teachings.