“My Father Who is in heaven…” To many American Christians these words are said freely and without fear. It is also said to affirm our relationship to God not simply our praise though praise and adoration is intended. Hamid, a believer in Islam, became a Christian as a result of the kindness and good works of a three American Christian soldiers he met following a firefight.
Born in Iraq, 19-year-old Hamid grew up believing God to be distant, vindictive and impersonal. Even though he had come to accept the unconditional love and sacrifice made for him and all humankind by Jesus Christ, he still could not believe that God loved the sinner and that he could think of God as his father.
Trying to help Hamid, An American soldier said, “Talk to God in the same way you’ve talked to your father, your dad, your papa.”
At first, the soldier’s technique did not seem to work. Philosophically, it just did not seem right to talk to God in this way. It is blasphemous. It is evil. It just cannot be! It did get Hamid thinking about his own biological father. “When I was a little boy,” he told a soldier. “and tried to talk to my father about something, I was often very afraid at first. But even if he was tending to our goats, he would stop whatever he was doing, put his big hand on my head, say my name and say ‘ come my son, let’s talk! Then he’d pick me up and ask me about my troubles.”
The more Hamid thought of these moments with his earthly father, the more he saw that being a father meant always listening lovingly to a troubled child. A child who, on occasions, misbehaved or disobeyed.
Kneeling in his dirt floor room, now an adult, Hamid looked up to heaven and prayed in silence, “Oh, Father, Father God…” And as he continued his prayer, he reported a wonderful feeling of presence and warmth never before felt as an Islamic believer. That warmth told him that God really is a loving, living Father always present, never rejecting, willing to listen and respond to his needs—even to someone who practiced Islam for years!