Monday, October 03, 2011

Blog Challenge #1- Re-post: My Testimony!

So, for the entire month of October, I'm participating in a Blog Challenge! The challenge/topic for Week #1 is Testimony, and since I already did a post about this July, I figured I would just re-post it again, because it's a story that never gets old! :) For more info on the blog challenge, click this link.

I was born in Montreal, QC in September of '93. Believe it or not, I'm that young. Before I was conscious of anything, we moved to Vancouver, BC. I was born to a single mother after my dad ran off, and my mom, at the time fairly dependent on her parents, moved there to be closer to them, and probably for work or something. My earliest memories are from when I was three or four, watching Veggie Tales in the morning before pre-school. Let me just say this- my mom is totally not a Christian, so it's hilarious looking back at how God had His hand on me from a really young age. I would always go to a friend's house in the mornings before pre-school while mom went off to do her photography job or work at the toy store, I forget at this point. Anyways, I would go to his house pretty early, and he'd always be sleeping, so his mom would sit me down in front of the TV to watch Veggie Tales. To this day I'm not sure if they were Christian or if there was just nothing else on at 6 AM on a weekday for kids to watch.

One day, when I was about to turn 6, my mom announced to me that we were moving again. I didn't think much of it, because we had moved a few times in the last five years. But then she told me we were moving to the other side of the country. You can imagine I wasn't thrilled with the idea, because it's so hard to make new friends when you're six? Seems silly to me, but at the time it was a big deal. We moved a week or two after my sixth birthday party- mom made me the coolest cake, shaped like a castle and with little plastic knights and stuff. What a boss! I'm gonna remind her that I love her when she wakes up. If I'm awake. Maybe I'll just email her.

So we arrived in Montreal, and moved into a sketchy little apartment on Regent and DeMaisonneuve, in NDG. There were roaches and grandma was living with us. My grandparents haven't lived together in a long time, but they're still best friends- she was just too much of a financial burden for him or something, not totally clear about the story. Anyways. Grandma was living with us, I was having nightmares about wolves, the apartment had roaches, it was not a great situation, but it was temporary until mom found something better. I started going to school at Willingdon Elementary School and on my first day (or at least the first day I can remember), I was stuck outside of the schoolyard in the rain (they hadn't opened the gate yet) and ended up chatting with a guy who would change my life forever. His name was Mat, and he was in my grade 1 class, and lived a block away from where we ended up moving (closer to the school, in a nicer place, where we lived until about a year and a half ago!). More importantly, he was a Christian.

He wasn't my best friend at the time, and actually we haven't really hung out in the last couple of years, but he definitely had a huge impact on my life and I wouldn't be where I am today if God hadn't used him to lead me to Him! Pretty cool to think that He uses 6-year-olds in that way! So this next part of the story is a little jumbled up in my own memories and the stories I've been told, but it went something like this: That summer, my mom was still looking for a camp to send me to, but we were poor and couldn't afford most of them. So we went to the pool one afternoon and I bumped into him there! He was with his day camp, Inspiritus Ministries Christian Creative Arts Camp, and I ended up swimming with him and his camp buddies for awhile, while my mom talked to one of the camp directors. I've been told that the conversation went something like this:

Mom: So what kind of camp are you guys running?
Karim: It's a Christian arts camp.
Mom: I will never send my son to a camp like that!

And two weeks later, because it was cheap and Mat's mom had encouraged my mom to go for it, there I was at Inspiritus. A name I'll never forget, because I spent the next bunch of summers there.

After a few years there as a camper, I still didn't really understand what I was hearing all the time. I mean, definitely I knew what they were talking about- Jesus, etc- but none of it really had any meaning for me. I was more focused on the cute girls and the friendships I had built with the guys there (some of whom are still good friends of mine today!) but definitely the seeds were being planted. One year, one of the camp directors asked me and Mat if we wanted to be Junior Counsellors, because she thought we were mature enough to handle it. We jumped at it. It was a cool opportunity to get some awesome job experience. Little did we realize how hard it would be, because it was more than just a day camp, it was a ministry. You don't hear tons of stories of guys being saved while doing God's work! But here's one such story :)
The first summer was super hard- all the older girls, who were my classmates at school, hated that I was a leader, and rebelled against me. It was stressful, lots of work, and I felt useless because I didn't know anything about God or the Bible or any of the stuff I was supposed to know about. Feeling useless in a leadership position sucks, and I was ready to give up on God and camp forever. But then, on the last day of camp, one of my campers (now a good friend of mine!) came up and thanked me for being his counsellor. That was when it hit me: What I was doing made a difference, and for some reason, even though I didn't believe in Him, I felt God calling me back the next year. And the year after. And many years after.

                                             Even into my long-haired teenage years!

It wasn't until 2006-2007 school year that I started to really think about what it meant to be a Christian, and how I wanted to do that. I sucked at it, and barely made an effort. But I believed it. And I went back that summer, after a three week trip to Hungary where nobody spoke English and I was more or less miserable half the time, trying eagerly to go back to work at camp. But they had changed locations without telling me, so I waited, day after day, for them to show up in the morning, and they never did. Then I got a call from a friend's sister, telling me they had moved to a building a block away. Derp. I walked in and it was chaos- apparently they had been praying for a miracle because it was a tough start to the summer. Coming in late like that, suddenly I felt like I belonged and was making a big difference. I got to really fully experience God that summer in so many amazing ways, working with people who are now my close friends, and ministering to kids who are now part of my youth group! I saw that those guys had a different love of God than I had, and I wanted what they had because it was rad, so I pursued it, went to youth group with them, and ended up going to church with them and falling in love with Jesus in new ways! I decided to give my life to God in 2008 and was baptised that June.

And the rest, as they say, is history!

1 comment:

  1. God does guide us in mysterious and wondrous ways, huh? Thanks so much for sharing your story and for being faithful to the Call. Blessings my friend!