“One day, I was alone in my room, I pulled out the Bible that my friend gave me and read John 8:1-11. I was shattered. I broke down and cried. Jesus showed this prostitute woman love even though she had sinned over and over again, He forgave her!”
In my country, a baby’s name is given based on the character, prayer, or hope of the parent.
My given name in Arabic means Lion.
I’m sure my parents gave me that particular name because it is a name which is full of strength. Little did I know that I would need the strength of a lion the day I found the Lord.
I was born Deaf in Central Asia. Everyone in my family could hear except for my sister and me. In the region where I grew up, I was expected to follow the national religion. According to a nationwide census, more than 138,000 people in my region follow the same belief system that is passed down to generations. It is an ancient tradition placed upon my father and his father.
Because of my Deafness, it was difficult for my family to communicate with me. My parents didn’t know sign language. My father and I would write notes back and forth and my mother and I would make up gestures.I didn’t want to be different. I wanted to be what the world showed me as normal. I used my voice, I tried to read lips, but nothing helped me to fit into a hearing world.I felt If I could only figure out a way to become more like a hearing person, my life would be complete.
As I grew older, my life grew tougher. I looked up to my grandfather. I wanted his approval, so I would try to do the things he would do. There were times when we would go to the place of worship and sit for hours. There were no interpreters, so I was bored and didn’t understand what was happening around me. My grandfather would try his best to gesture to explain the rituals to me, but I never fully understood any of it.
The foundation of my father’s belief system was based on the hope that if you are good enough, if you try hard enough, you can meet the ideas of what a good person should be and you will be blessed. I decided that would be my hope also. Whatever I was doing, no matter if it was personal or private, it had to be right. All of my daily efforts were focused on becoming righteous enough to go to heaven. My life was about doing and being as good as possible. I looked around and only saw perfect people, without blemish. I was determined to be the same.
I went to a Deaf private school. Someone gave me a comic book Bible. I remember flipping through the colorful, visual pages sometimes stopping and reading the miracles of Jesus. I remember Jesus restoring the sight of a blind person, while a Deaf person received the gift of sound. On the last page of the book, there was a section about Jesus rising from His death. I looked at it and thought, “Jesus rose?!” But, I closed the book and went on my way.
“As I look back now I realize that I
always felt I was on this kind of journey –
grasping to find Jesus.”
Years later, I flew to America and stayed with some friends. Growing up, I had always wanted to go to America because their educational system for Deaf students was superior. However, I heard that Americans were sinful, which caused me to worry that I would fall into their temptations and ruin my good standing.
My friend Paul said, “read the Bible with your eyes.” I said, “my eyes? What does that mean?” He said, “It means, read it for yourself and don’t depend on what others have told you about it.” That’s when things really started to change for me.
One day, I was alone in my room, I pulled out the Bible that Paul gave me and read John 8:1-11.
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.
I was shattered.
I broke down and cried.
Jesus showed this prostitute woman love
even though she had sinned over and over again,
He forgave her!
I remembered how much I struggled growing up, wanting to be righteous. Every time I did something wrong, I thought, “Will I still go to heaven?” My hope was based on my own goodness, not on anyone’s forgiveness. And, no matter how much I tried to be perfect, I still failed. I wondered, when I fall, who will lift me up?
Seeing Jesus love this woman, whose sins far outweighed my own, overwhelmed me. I realized that all my attempts to be good were worthless. I needed Jesus’ sacrificial death to cover my sin.
The Jewish people in the story wanted to use stones to destroy the woman’s life. But Jesus came to give life, not take it away; He was the cornerstone not the stone of death.
I was given strength and courage to see the truth of Christ and respond.
Since the day I experienced Jesus extending forgiveness and love to the woman, I have watched Scriptures in my sign language tell me other stories of Christ’s love. English is not my first language, so having Scriptures in my language helps me to have clarity for God’s Word and plan for my life. That kind of deep understanding is what brings a sustainable life transformation.
God has used my life as a witness to other Deaf people that salvation is near.
I know God sees me – He knows my sign language. No longer do I stand in fear, but I’m like a roaring lion for all to witness, standing firm on the rock of forgiveness and grace.
“Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:6