“I know God can change a hardened heart in just a second, and that’s what happened to me.” This is my story.
Tia Ifram, Amman, Jordan
There was one country in the world I never wanted to visit and that was Australia because I’d seen posts on Instagram of weird animals and spiders. But God must have a sense of humour because it was through an Australian church that I was saved.
My road back to Jesus began three years ago when I was studying at university in Canada and had slipped into depression. It was so bad. I couldn’t get out of bed, I was binge eating, and I wasn’t turning up to any of my classes. And while she didn’t know it at the time, my roommate was a God ordained part of my redemptive story. Every morning when the alarm went off, she sat up in bed and read her Bible. I watched her do this every day. It was like clockwork. She never missed a church service on Sundays. I wasn’t like that. I was indifferent towards God — and even though I’d grown up in a Christian home, I was never fully devoted; I never read my Bible, I only ever prayed The Lord’s Prayer and on Sundays, I always felt like I was being dragged to church by my parents.
Fast forward to 2020 — after having returned to Jordan due to the pandemic, God turned up in an unexpected place. I was in the bathroom when a song called “Living Hope” by Phil Wickham popped up on my playlist. The first line of the song says, “How great the chasm that lay between us. How high the mountain I could not climb. In desperation, I turned to Heaven and spoke your name into the night.” I found myself weeping in the shower and crying out to God. I have no words to explain it other than I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit. A few days later, I was sitting on my balcony watching Hillsong UNITED in a worship concert on my laptop. As soon as Taya, Brooke and the team started singing, I could sense the tangible presence of God. I found myself longing for the connection the Hillsong team had with God. I was hungry for it. So, I closed my eyes, said a prayer, and fully surrendered my life to Jesus.
I know God can change a hardened heart in just a second and that’s what happened to me. And then … I kid you not, I felt as though I was being scrubbed clean from the inside out. Prior to that salvation prayer, I had so many unanswered questions: Why am I here? What is my purpose? What’s the point when you only die anyway? After that encounter with God, I felt as though all my questions were answered and for the first time, I had a newfound sense of peace and an excitement about the future. I am so grateful to God for never giving up on me. Since then, I have been reading my Bible every day. I have a new playlist. Instead of all the sad, introspective songs, I now listen to worship. A few days after that salvation prayer, I was watching Hillsong Church Online and decided to join the chat. Afterwards, I visited the online welcome lounge via zoom. It was a cool experience and I got to meet lots of people from around the world who, like me, had perhaps felt disconnected. One of the girls I met was Charlotte from the USA who ended up being my online group leader. Online groups were a new thing back then and I was one of the first people to sign up. Aside from being part of this revolutionary approach to the way we do church, being part of this eclectic global community gave me a sense of belonging. I’d found my people. Throughout the remainder of 2020 and 2021, I met with my group via zoom every second Sunday for an hour. Recently, I was asked to lead my own group. We are one of a growing number of online Bible study groups that meet regularly in different time zones. The girls in my group come from England, Nigeria, Mexico and Canada. I love belonging to a cause bigger than myself, and ultimately, I’d like to travel to Australia to do my masters. Well… that’s if I can cope with all those big spiders!