I always longed for real friendships in my life. I tried hard to build true and meaningful relationships with my family and friends. Before I went to my mandatory military duty, I lived in a very religious neighborhood and I, myself, loved God and believed in Him too. My friends were also religious. The longing I had together with the belief and love I had for God naturally led me into this circle of friends. My longing was to finding the truth about the God I believed in. And I especially wanted to benefit from the knowledge of my well-educated religious friends in order to have a solid faith. About 5 years later the things I learned and the things I had done with my friends didn't feel real to me anymore, because I didn't experience either the respect or the love I longed to have on the basis of sincere faith. When I left for my army duty I left my friends too.
In January 1983 after I finished my military duty, I got involved with a new friend and a new job environment. Shortly after this I finished the first stage of the German classes I was taking. Then I went to Germany where I had some relatives. My desire was to improve my German and to stay there to work. Then, about 2 weeks later, on a Sunday, I came across my German teacher. He was there on his vacation. The interesting thing is that neither of us was aware of the other one's trip. That day, for the first time in my life, I went to church with him. For about 3 months after this, I tried to attend Church and get involved with some activities they had regularly, because I was very impressed with the things I saw and experienced there. On the one hand, the bad relationships between Turks and unbelieving-Germans, and on the other hand, the sincere love and friendship of my believing German friends forced me to think about the importance and truth of faith. I found myself feeling like one of the believing Germans.
Because I was not able to stay in Germany, I came back to Istanbul and started to go to church and to compare my old knowledge with my new. But I pridefully decided that until I learned everything in detail I was not going to make a decision, and I was not going to be influenced by anybody. Strangly enough I started to feel resistance within me. In reality, I was resisting was God Himself, who was trying to form a meaningful relationship with me. I guess this resistance was an instinct from my cultural background.
About eight months later I slowly started to understand that God wanted to have a personal relationship with me through Jesus the Messiah. But it was still difficult for me to make a decision without full understanding. As I evaluated my life, I felt the pressures building in me. One day on the way back from work, I thought about two incidences in the Bible that affected me deeply. One of them is the healing of the woman who bled for twelve years. This woman had spent all she had in order to find healing, but still was not healed. Then, one day she touched Jesus, Who was passing by, and she was healed. Most of the time we, too, are like this. We look for a solution where it can't be found. In reality the one who heals us and shows mercy to us is the Creator.
The other incidence is when Jesus was crucified. One of the two criminals beside him asked Jesus not to forget him when He entered the Kingdom of God. The answer of Jesus the Messiah to him is, "I promise you that this very day you will be in Paradise with me." This showed me that in spite of all the sins of this criminal, Jesus the Messiah had an incomparable love, mercy, and forgiveness, which are above all understanding. These two incidences together convinced me that even if I don't understand fully, I can trust Jesus the Messiah. All I have to understand is that He loves me unconditionally. My first task that night was to go to my German teacher's home. I told him all this, and he told me how I can pray to accept Jesus. That very night we prayed together, and I invited Jesus the Messiah into my life.
Since then I found the real friendship I have been looking for. The thing I needed to understand is that nothing is perfect but I can do my best with the strength and unconditional love coming from our Creator. This discovery was the biggest step of my life. I still have difficulties in my life, but now I can overcome them with the comfort- and peace-giving strength of God. I can sincerely admit now that I love others, not in my way, but with a real love.
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