Out of Babylon
Out of Babylon
By S. Joseph Kidder
 

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Everybody was talking to me at the same time.  

            “How can you do this?” my father shouted at me.

            “Yes, you’re crazy!” one of my uncles yelled.

            “You’re bringing shame to our family,” my mother cried. 

Voices shouted at me from all directions as my parents and relatives tried to talk me out of my new faith. 

            “How can you want to be a Seventh-day Adventist? That religion is a cult.”

            “It’s a Jewish religion!”

            “Are you out of your mind?” 

I just stood there, confused and under severe tension.  Finally, when my dad thought he was not getting anywhere with me and that I was not going to change my mind, he took off his shoes and threw them at me and spit on me (a sign of inflicting shame, representing the ultimate way of disgracing an individual in the Middle East).  Seeing this, my cousin Basher—whom I was very close to—felt that it was his duty to straighten me out. So he and one of my brothers grabbed me under the shoulders, lifted me up, and began to punch me. As I endured the blows, was pushed in all directions, much like a piñata. 

Soon all the boys and men in the room joined in, beating and spitting on me from all directions. They pulled my hair and ears and shouted hateful words about how I was stupid and a disgrace to them. I knew that in my culture, breaking away from the family religion is like denying the family and is not tolerated.  The concept of honor and shame is very important in the Middle East, and because I diverted from family tradition, I became a source of shame and disgrace for them. 

That evening Joseph Kidder was beaten almost to death, thrown into the street unconscious, kicked out of the family forever—all because of his new faith.  And so began his long journey from the Babylon of his secular life in Iraq to the amazing love of God and the importance of surrender to His plan.  He didn’t know then the many struggles and sacrifices that still awaited, but prayer, his faith in the Scriptures, and the support of his new church family would bring him to a life of ministry and service that continues today.