Ali was born in southeastern Turkey, the eldest of nine children. In his youth, he helped support the family by working as a shepherd. Spending long hours alone in the countryside, he talked freely with God, telling Him how much he admired the beauty of His creation.
By the time he reached his twenties, however, Ali had lost his boyish innocence. He became a heavy drinker, and typically returned home from work drunk. He began to abuse his wife, Zehra, and terrify his children with his violent behavior. Deeply ashamed, he preferred to live for extended periods in Istanbul, knowing his family would be protected from his alcoholism by physical distance.
Ali moved to Saudi Arabia after hearing that alcohol was forbidden there and work was easy to come by. Though his struggle with alcoholism continued (Ali was able to buy liquor on the black market), he became more determined than ever to overcome his addiction. While living in Saudi Arabia, he made the hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca, determined to please God as a true and devout Muslim.
While in Mecca, Ali had a dream that changed his life forever. In the dream, Jesus appeared to him and said, “You belong to me.” Jesus also touched Ali’s forehead and said, “Depart from here. You belong to me now.” When Ali woke up, he was filled with indescribable joy. The dream had seemed so real! What had happened to him? Then he heard the voice of Jesus again, speaking to him, “Ali, you belong to me. You will not make this pilgrimage. Leave this place.”
The next day, Ali cut his pilgrimage short and returned to the city of Akba, where he shared an apartment with several other Turks who, like him, had construction jobs in Saudi Arabia. As he washed up from his long journey, he again heard the Lord speaking to him. He fell to his knees, declaring that he would do whatever God asked him to do. That evening, he heard the Lord’s voice again, telling him he should return to his family in Turkey. Ali left Saudi Arabia a few days later.
Back in Turkey, Ali’s friends and neighbors came to his house to celebrate his return. Hearing the voice of Jesus again, Ali announced to everyone that Jesus had appeared to him in Saudi Arabia and that he was now a Christian.
None of the neighbors took Ali seriously, but his wife and children saw the positive changes in his life. Ali reconciled with his wife, Zehra, asking forgiveness for the way he had treated her. In turn, Zehra expressed her willingness to join Ali in his new faith. A major obstacle remained, however. Ali and Zehra had no Bible to read and there was no church for them to attend. They didn’t know anyone who was a Christian.
Needing work, Ali returned to the metropolis of Istanbul, finding a job easily enough and earning a good salary to meet his family’s financial needs. After a few months, however, it became clear that this arrangement would not work for long. Zehra and the children missed Ali so he made the decision to return home.
One day, while listening to the radio, Ali heard the announcer talking about Jesus. He called Zehra to his side and told her that he had found the voice of Jesus—inside the radio!
Through this Christian radio program, Ali received a New Testament in the mail.
Today, Ali continues to share his Christian faith openly and unashamedly. Alcohol no longer has dominion over him, and he cherishes his wife who he once treated so badly. Truly, Ali has become a “new creation in Christ.”