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'Awaz, are you coming with me to church?' When her father asked, Awaz Al Oskan (21) was stunned. My father had been in the Netherlands for a while. I lived in Syria with my mother, brothers and sister. But it became too dangerous for us as Kurds in Syria. Fortunately we also got the opportunity to leave the country. We knew nothing about the Netherlands, only that it was safe.'
She has lived in the Netherlands for four years now. And she is still grateful to her father for taking her to church. 'I did not know anything about Christianity. But my father had come to know Jesus in the Netherlands. And he wanted to be baptized when he was together with his family again. This eventually happened in a church in Nijmegen.'
After a while the family moves to Apeldoorn. Awaz comes into contact with people from ICF Apeldoorn. I wanted to know more about Jesus, says the SVE-student. I noticed that my father had changed a lot. I wanted a change like that too! People from ICF tell her more about the Christian faith and together with her they read the Bible. On June 18, 2017 Awaz is baptized.
'A life with Jesus is completely different from a life without Jesus, Awaz now knows from experience.' Formely I used to be a Muslim. I did not know who God was and could not believe in Him either. But now I have come to know Jesus. She is beaming. "He gave me a new life!'
She has already learned a lot at ICF. She is happy with the Arabic-speaking meeting on Wednesday evening, in which she is heavily involved.
Has life become easier now that she knows Jesus? 'It has become different. If I have a hard time, I find comfort in the words of the Bible. Then I go to the forest, for example, and pray to Jesus there as I walk. Or I sit down on a bench and read my Bible. Then I get peace.'
Twenty years ago I came to the Netherlands from Curaçao, Joëll (41) tells us. I wanted to study and stay for a maximum of five years. But then I met Marisela. I stayed in the Netherlands and Marisela became my wife. We live in Apeldoorn and together we have two sons.
Marisela was looking for a Christian church and found ICF Apeldoorn on the internet. She felt at home there, but I did not want to go with her. I knew God existed, but did not know Him and had no relationship with Him.
Marisela participates in an ICF cellgroup. She told me how much she learned at the cellgroup and how nice the people were. When I once brought Marisela to her cellgroup, the leader came outside. I will never forget that. He spoke to me ever so kindly. It touched me.
Joëll decides to go to ICF anyway. The sermon was very easy to understand. Even though I knew almost nothing about the Bible, I understood what it was about. That was the reason for me to keep going.
'I always felt a void inside, I was missing something. But I did not know what it was. When I went out with my friends, I always came home with this feeling of emptyness. At ICF I heard that I had to repent and leave my old life behind me. I could get new life through faith in Jesus. In a serious way he continues: More and more I understood that this was what I was missing in my life. I wanted to know more about it. I wanted to follow Jesus.
And did you succeed? 'In the Bible I read how I should live, what God expects of me. But I don't always succeed in doing what he asks of me. Sometimes my faith is less on my mind. Then the old features of the past pop up again. Then I pray early in the morning and read the Bible to come closer to God again. And then when I come to my work singing, my colleagues say: Joëll, what's the matter with you?'
‘The Sundays are very important to me. I think it's great that I can be a as cristan at ICF. As a result, I have more contact with other Christians and I have already got to know many people better. And the cellgroup ...' Tears come to his eyes. 'It is so beautiful to belong to the cellgroup, it really moves me. The conversations with the pastor are also very valuable to me. Not to mention the conversations with my wife.'
‘I can recommend everyone to seriously follow Jesus. That does not mean that you have no worries, that your life is perfect or that you become rich. But you get peace, despite your situation. I did not choose Him because I did not feel like it, but He chose me! ’