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Calgary, Carleton, Dalhousie / St. Marys, Ottawa, Quebec, Queens, Ryerson, S.F.U., Saskatchewan, Testimony, U.B.C. -

A Decision Made

My faith as a child was secure. I prayed and was safe in my family and community in Iraq. I was happy and joy filled. I spent much time in the church leading groups and serving others when I was needed and when I wanted. I was free, like most ordinary Catholic children. God was real and faith was an easy part of life. When I was older I moved to Kurdistan. My faith life continued as usual and I made many new Catholic friends and served in the Church. I again led groups and spent much time in the church. I trusted in God's plan and felt His presence in my life. But In the last year of living in Kurdistan I was preparing for University. This brought a new challenge in life. Many prayers were made for me to be accepted into an American school. I wanted that to be God's plan for me. I was finally accepted to an American school, but due to passport issues, I could not attend. However, I was able to move to Canada and ended up in Calgary. Not long after, I was accepted into the University of Calgary. I accepted this as God's plan. In Canada, like the temperature, my faith became cold. I was going to Mass on Sunday but had no strength to share my faith or grow closer to God. Life was satisfying, school was good, friends were good, work was great, but my childhood joy was escaping. A feeling of emptiness grew in me. My idea was that I could do better in life without God; maybe the joy would come back. I started skipping Sunday Mass and stopped praying daily. I knew this wasn't good but I felt like it was the only option. Because we were so far apart (mostly in different countries), I felt like my family and I were growing apart. This made me sad because my family was the closest people to me. I started to lose hope in all people. I now had only faith in myself. My new plan was to do everything for myself only. I felt I could help myself without God. I met Catholic Christian Outreach in January 2011. I joined a faith study because I thought it was a good thing to do and it would make my mother happy when I told her over the phone. But it felt like CCO people wouldn't help because they were too different from me. I never knew anybody in CCO very well and assumed that they were just happy with a boring life. I didn't understand them. I believed that people outside the faith were smarter and that religion was just a crutch, or a drug, and maybe only a childish feeling. However, this idea of "faith-being-fake" never became totally true in my heart. It was just an idea. I knew I wasn't happy without God, but didn't know what to do about it anymore. This past November I went to a Summit event because I had nothing to do that night and I decided I would go and give God one last chance. I had nothing to lose because life was frustrating and I was confused. In adoration I prayed the Rosary and thought that it could be the last time I prayed it. I asked God why I wasn't happy, and why I was suffering. I didn't understand my purpose and what God's plan was; I wanted a purpose for my life. I told God I had tried my best for 22 of 24 years but I had lost Him. And I asked for help because I couldn't help myself anymore. I knew my life without God wasn't good. I said to God, "Even though I am giving up my faith, please protect me and don't leave me". After those prayers I sat idle, doing nothing and waiting for the Summit to end so I could go home. After the Summit part of me wanted to talk to people, but part of me wanted to escape everyone. I was invited to visit downstairs with the people, and I don't know why I went but I went. Downstairs a CCO missionary asked me if I had went to confession upstairs during the Summit, or if I had gone recently. The question surprised me. I told him I didn't go and hadn't gone in a long time. He told me he was going to confession the next morning and would pick me up with his car to go with him. At the end of the night I told him I would go with him. I thought that maybe this was God's way of trying to help me. The next day I didn't want to go and was regretting my 'yes' but, I had to go, the missionary was picking me up. When Saturday morning Mass ended, my friend asked me if I was ready to go, and I said I was ready to go, thinking we were going to leave the church and go home. But, he went straight to the confession line. I didn't want to go and didnʼt feel ready, but I followed him because I didn't know what else to do.  When my friend, the missionary, went to confession, the thought of escaping and leaving the church entered my mind. But I knew I couldn't run from God anymore. So I went to confession. As I began to confess I was confessing absolutely all my sins, and I started crying. I took a long time and I talked with the priest. Eventually I finished and the priest forgave my sins, and I prayed before Jesus in the adoration chapel. As I prayed I was so free, like when I was a child with joy again! My sins weren't my identity anymore. Christ had taken them from me in confession! He really did take them and they were gone forever! I saw myself clean, as God saw me! I felt unafraid of death. The fear of death had vanished and I knew God would take me to Heaven if I died then! I understood Jesus and His mercy in a more clear way than I ever had before! Now I am not afraid to go to confession anymore and I encourage others to go too! Life still has ups and downs but I am filled with so much joy and a huge sense of freedom. I know God loves me and will never leave me! Originally from Iraq, Bashar is studying Bio Science at the University of Calgary.  He is spent his 2012 summer serving on IMPACT! Halifax.  He always has a smile and a story to tell.

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