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I must admit, I am no heavenly man! Unlike most other Muslim-background believers, there is nothing supernatural to tell about how I came in touch with Christians or decided to be one.

On the contrary, I went to an old Anglican church with some friends because of an article about it in a local Turkish newspaper, which accused it of luring young people to become Christians by offering them wine, 100 U.S. dollars every Sunday, and the possibility of marrying a young British woman.

I was 17 years old when I had to face my family and relatives about my decision to be a follower of Jesus. I remember vividly how fearful I was, and how isolated and alone I felt as I lay in the fetal position in a sleeping bag on a friend's floor.

I am still broke, sober, and single after all these years, and I still struggle with shame, loneliness, and fear.

As I read the testimonies of other believers and heard sermons about great faith heroes, I realized that I was not one of them. I daydreamed about Luther and his courage to stand up for what he believed. I imagined him in front of the colorfully dressed, high-ranking clerics of the Diet of Worms, unshaken, strong, and confident. I could picture him saying his famous lines in a loud, confident tone:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by means of the passages I have quoted, and unless they thus render my conscience bound by the Word of God, I cannot and will not retract, for it is unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience.

But as for me, these lines from Pablo Neruda's poem "We Are Many" have always been more appropriate:

All the books I read lionize dazzling hero figures, always brimming with self-assurance. I die ...
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Bearing the Silence of God
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March 2008

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