During the recent summit of the International Community of Mennonite Brethren (ICOMB) in Brazil, we met and were inspired by a man named Abdullah. This is his story.
Born in Lebanon to a devout Muslim family, Abdullah has been educated to become a Jihadist. “By the time I was a teenager,” Abdullah said, “I was ready to be a suicide bomber, and receive an eternal reward. So men attached bombs to my body and sent me into a Jewish neighborhood.” There, he shouted in Arabic, “God is great!” and pressed the button, but the bombs would not detonate. He tried again and again, but nothing happened. Later, he found out that the bombs were fake, and that his Jihadist teachers were videotaping the event as a recruiting tool.
As Abdullah got older, he became involved in the drug trade. He made a lot of money, but he also made enemies, and ended up in Colombia working for the drug lord, Pablo Escobar. “I had money and power,” Abdullah said. “I still prayed five times a day, fasted and read the Qur’an, but I was also addicted to cocaine, and desperate for release. I wanted to die. One day I called out to God, ‘If you are real, save me!’”
Five days later, a man drove into his neighborhood who was known to be a Christian. At first, Abdullah thought to steal the car and kill the man, but when he approached, the man said, “God has sent me to you to tell you that Jesus loves you.”
Brandishing his gun, Abdullah hesitated. Something touched his heart, and he turned to his gang members and said, “I am leaving with this man.” With help, Abdullah entered a drug treatment center and was delivered from his addiction. His experience of the mercy and kindness of God led him to put his faith in Jesus Christ and join a local church, where he was discipled for several years
Back in Lebanon, his family heard of his conversion and sent his brother to kill him. While shooting bullets into Abdullah’s house, the brother was arrested, but Abdullah asked the police to release him. After that, most of Abdullah’s enemies decided to leave him alone. Today, Abdullah shares his story and helps other addicts to find freedom in Jesus. He has become like the man who once said to him, “God has sent me to you.”