by Brandon W., Christian Associates International
We had the privilege of meeting Peter after hearing about him from our CA staff in Glasgow in a “you-really-have-to-meet-this-guy” kind of way. As we sat at a table in Cottier’s pub café, Peter drew us in to the story of his life journey with a gentle authenticity that betrayed obvious signs of rough edges and a troubled past.
This was a man with a redemptive story to tell. Born in the UK to a Muslim family, Peter (not his given Muslim name) spent a number of his formative years as a young man in Pakistan until he moved back to England in the late 90’s and eventually started a family.
Like many people of one faith or another, he occasionally wavered between degrees of devotion to his religion. In general, he held to the broad cultural values of Islam handed to him by his extended family, from which he drew his identity and a sense of security.
In 2010, Peter’s marriage broke up and his life began a downward spiral into alcohol and despair, eventually landing him on the streets of Glasgow. For several months, he developed the street-hardened skills of homeless urban survival, such as how to keep warm with just the right layering of clothing and wet cardboard. Before long, self-destructive thoughts turned into resolute plans for suicide. One day, however, before he could act on these plans, Peter walked into a gathering of Mosaic Church at the invitation of a friend.
Welcomed with a sizable hug from Wes, one of the leaders and original founders of Mosaic, Peter was startled by the genuine hospitality he experienced and he began to cling to a newfound glimpse of hope. His optimism grew as he joined the weekend gatherings regularly and connected with others in the Mosaic community.
During the meals that the group would frequently share together, Peter was shocked to discover that these new friends respected him enough to tell him which food items were permissible for him to eat as a Muslim! As he explains it, Peter was experiencing authentic spiritual community in soul-nourishing ways that spoke dignity and meaning into his life, despite being born into a religion historically at odds with Christianity. He hadn’t been won over to Jesus, but he was certainly being won over to this peculiar group of people.
It was during a Good Friday gathering when God really began to get Peter’s attention. He was a bit confused about the message: Jesus was tortured to death on a Friday and they officially named it “Good”?! He was also having a bad day since he’d run out of money and cigarettes. During the service, he was invited to partake of communion, during which his heart was stirred in powerful ways and he discovered that his cravings and anxieties had faded.
God was wooing Peter to Himself.
A few months later, Peter found himself in a hospital room after an epileptic seizure. It was there that he gave up his months long resistance, considered once more the cost to his familial and cultural ties, and surrendered himself to the Jesus he had been experiencing through the Mosaic family. At that point, he felt he needed to inform these friends of the spiritual journey he’d been on, something he had avoided doing for months for fear of any unwanted hype or attention. After making the announcement, he braced himself. However, he was pleasantly surprised by their reaction. No hype. No fuss. Just knowing head nods and relational warmth as usual.
“We knew it was coming,” explained one friend named Adam. “You were asking all the right questions.” Peter’s next goal was to be baptized. On a Monday. “We usually do baptisms on Sundays,” was the quizzical response that Peter got back. “You don’t understand,” explained Peter. “This particular Monday I have in mind is my birthday.” So on a Monday in the damp coolness of an early Scottish autumn, Peter was baptized in an inflatable kiddie pool in a front yard on Glasgow’s west side.
In addition to being lovingly folded in to the Mosaic Church family, Peter has been returning to Glasgow’s homeless population several times a week with a determination to impart the love and compassion he is drawing from that family. One man named Ricky, who was formerly homeless and addicted to heroin, has not only come to faith in Jesus and been baptized, but he has also been reconciled to the entirety of his once-estranged family.
Peter is honest about what life is like now and ready to admit the temptations and struggles that he and friends like Ricky face daily. Nonetheless, the transformation Peter is experiencing and the ripple effect it’s having in Glasgow is a compelling testimony of God’s power at work through a community of people on mission with God. — Christian Associates International