A Muslim's Search for Meaning Leads to Christ
By David DiCicco
The 700 Club
“Every little boy needs the image of his father that needs to see that man, ‘That’s who my dad is.’ Throughout my life, I guess I was always searching for that father figure – never had it.”
Antonio Santana grew up never knowing his biological father. “My mom was always at work. My stepdad was always gone, so I was pretty much – I kinda did what I wanted to do.”
He had little direction in his life, but managed to avoid the negative influences in his neighborhood. “I picked up a basketball and being on the basketball court played a vital role in my life in keeping drugs out of my life, keeping gangs out of my life – all that stuff - away from me for a very long time.”
But he couldn’t avoid them forever. “I made it all the way to my senior year in high school and then that’s when I started smoking marijuana, started hanging out with people I shouldn’t have been hanging out with, getting in trouble. I would skip classes to smoke weed. It just went downhill from there.”
Eventually he was kicked out of high school. There was no one to guide Antonio in his decisions – certainly not his own family. “They never really sat me down to tell me about myself, to tell me I was messing my life up. I wish they would have because maybe I would have avoided so many things later on in life.”
“I went to jail a number of times. The last thing you hear when you go to jail is the sound of that jail cell closed upon you. You’re just trapped with your consciousness. You’re trapped thinking that there has to be something more to life.”
“I had this void in my heart. I didn’t know how to fill it. I couldn’t fill it no matter what drug, no matter what girl, no matter what. Nothing could fill that void in my heart. All that stuff just led me further into depression. I needed a change in life.”
He found work at a local factory. It was there he began to search for God. “I had a few friends that would smoke marijuana with me that were claiming to be Muslim. They told me about it and I was just like, ‘Okay, interesting.’ So when I got off work I went to the mosque. I was excited about going to the mosque, because I wanted to learn about who God is.”
This little Arab man comes walking out. He was telling me about how Islam can change my life, and that’s what I needed the most. I needed a change in my life. I needed a change in my heart. And that started off my different journey in life. I stopped cussing. I stopped premarital sex. I stopped smoking marijuana. I had now a new identity. I was a Muslim.”
He devoted himself to Islam. Yet something was still missing. I was praying five times a day, but every time I knelt down in prayer it felt like I was praying to a brick wall. It felt like Allah was not there. So that’s why it made me more depressed because even though I’m trying to be righteous, I’m trying to be religious, I just felt God further and further away.”
He started having strange dreams. “I dreamt that I was swimming in a big ocean all by myself and there was a figure in the background sitting on a rock. He was fishing for me. I didn’t know who that figure was because I couldn’t categorize Him at that moment as Jesus Christ, but I had an impression that was Jesus. I was trying to make sense of it. At the same time I couldn’t explain it.”
The dreams continued. One day on the street he met some Christian evangelists. “One of the gentlemen gave me the Bible. He told me to read this one verse; to read it out loud, and he pointed to John 14:6. And when I read it I was stunned. I read, ‘Jesus says I am the way the truth and the life. No man shall come unto the Father but by Me.’ I had no rebuttal; I could not refute those sayings of Jesus. I said, ‘You know what? I’m seeking after truth.’”
The evangelists prayed for Antonio to find the truth he sought. Over the next few months, he struggled to understand Jesus. I’m really asking God, does He love me cause I’m tired of being depressed, tired of praying, I’m you know, ‘God where are you?’ And so I hear a knock on the front door and it turned out to be my Uncle Ricky. And he only says two things to me. That’s it. He says, ‘The Lord, yes.’ and then he walks away.”
It led me to look up the word love in the Quran and it was always based on stipulation, and then I looked in the Bible for the term love and it led me to Romans 5:8, ‘God demonstrates His love for us while yet we’re still sinners, Christ died for us’. I read God demonstrated His love for me, and that love led His Son to die for me. And I was like ‘Wow! This God has to be the true God.’”
Antonio found what he had been seeking. “I believed in the Jesus of the Bible. I had a sense of peace. I had a sense that no matter what happens in my life, that wherever I’m headed, God has my back. I just became so enraptured in studying God. I wanted to tell everybody about Jesus.”
He enrolled in Moody Bible Institute to learn more about the Word of God. I want to serve in the church full time to help people see their need for Jesus, to help broken families; to help minister to a lost and dying generation, a fatherless generation, to be a big brother to the brotherless.”
“That search for my father, definitely was always a void in my life. But the Scripture is very true that God adopts us into His family and He becomes our Abba Father. And I felt the love of God and I felt… you know, I never felt, knowing that I was walking with Christ, I never felt without.”
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