#TBT | Safe in His Hands
This story was originally published December 19, 2014.
We were refugees. We didn’t know anybody here, and we had never even heard of Dayton. But we were happy and knew that God, who protected us when we were in Iraq, would never leave us and He had a plan for us.
Meet Bashar, an Electrical Engineering student at Wright State University from Baghdad-Iraq. This is his story.
At the end of July 2007, my parents and younger brother had to leave our home in Iraq because of the war and persecution of Christians. I was born and raised in Iraq and grew up in an Eastern Catholic Church called the Chaldean Church. I lived in a household that loved Jesus and taught me about Him while showing me how to love Him and love others. But as soon as I started to hit my teen years, I turned away. I was a Christian just by name, but never actually experienced what it meant to be a Christian. Even though my parents taught me about Christianity and I read my Bible and went to Bible summer school, I didn’t care about all that. What I cared about most was me and only me.
Starting in 2006, the situation in Iraq started to get really bad, especially after the bombing of one of an important religious site for the Muslim Shiites. It was really hard for my family and I to live in Baghdad. There was a civil war going on; a lot of explosions, clashes, fights, and people killing each other in the streets. Sometimes we couldn’t even go out from our house for a couple days at a time. I remember our house windows were broken by random gunshots. My mom used to pray and read Psalm 91 all the time. Even with all of that going on, my parents wanted to stay. This changed when one of the Islamic Militia tried to kidnap my father, but by God’s grace it failed and they couldn’t. About a week later, my family and I fled from Iraq to Beirut, Lebanon.
In Lebanon, I gave my life to Christ. God started turning my life around by hearing an old hymn that I used to chant when I was a little kid. I was no longer the same person that I used to be. My parents and family started to see the difference and Jesus continues His work in me and puts people in my life that I have never met before which helps me to grow in Him.
We lived in Lebanon for almost two years until we were approved to come to the United States. Specifically to Dayton, OH. We were refugees. We didn’t know anybody here, and we had never even heard of Dayton. But we were happy and knew that God, who protected us when we were in Iraq, would never leave us and He had a plan for us.
We arrived to Dayton a week before Easter on April 2, and we were welcomed by a nonprofit resettlement agency at the airport. With their help, we lived in a house in East Dayton (Belmont). They also helped us to get our paperwork and medical examinations done. When we came here, it wasn’t really easy for us. We didn’t have a car. We used to walk to go buy groceries. We learned how to get on the bus and move around in the city of Dayton to discover the area and to look for jobs. We had to ask people and look for things online when we wanted to go somewhere or to buy something. But God was and still is with us in every step we go through.
In Belmont, my parents got connected to a house church. They met Lisa Jackson at a garage sale while they were looking for a toaster oven. Later, she bought it for them and they started to talk. Then they went to Jason Wing’s house church with her. My brother and I later met Pastor Rob, Jason, and some other Apexers at Lisa’s house during a Halloween party. About a week later, we went to the house church, and then went to the Apex gathering. We really loved the people in the house church. They cared about us and loved us. They were very welcoming even though my brother and I used to talk and argue about theology like justification by faith alone, and baptism. Later, my brother and I started reading the book of Romans and the Lord showed us that faith in Him alone is enough no matter how righteous we think we are; it is only He who can save us.
Our experience with Apex, house church, and quad has been a blessing for us. I do love them all. They are like my family.
Family is one of the most important things in our Middle Eastern culture. When we came here, we didn’t have our whole family with us. But I have come to see my house church and Apexers as my family in Christ Jesus. I have been blessed by my house church and quad brothers and sisters as they have stood with us and prayed for us during hard time. When my aunt and her husband were killed in Iraq because of their faith, my house church family helped us – especially my father – to forgive the people who did it. When my dad had a heart problem and prostate cancer, Apex people kept asking about him and praying for him. Even one of the house church women went to the hospital with my mom and dad and stayed with my mom until the surgery was done and the doctor said everything went well.
It has been a pleasure to meet so many Apexer’s and to serve the Lord with them. I’m so thankful to each one of them.
This is my story that is no longer my story, but it is His story. The story of Jesus Christ my Lord and Redeemer who began his work in me, and He will continue working through me. Please, I would like for you to pray for me that I will serve him, obey him and glorify until the day he will come.
Photographer: Hilary Tebo