Ferial Baz is a member of The People of God community in Beirut.
My father was Greek Orthodox and my mother Maronite (Catholic). I grew up going to both Churches but being rooted in neither of them. I enjoyed celebrating Palm Sunday and Pascha (Easter) twice every year. That was about everything I knew of Christianity at that time.
While still a pre-teen and being an avid reader, I had an annual subscription at a Baptist library where I could borrow books and read them anytime I wanted to. There I was introduced to a different version of Christianity: The Baptist Church. I was attracted to the youth meetings, and I started reading the Bible on my own. Little by little I grew attached to the Baptist Church and became a faithful member of it. There I met my husband, who, like me, was also a cradle Orthodox. In 1984, we got married and eventually had three boys and a girl.
Early in our second year of marriage, we attended the Life in the Spirit Seminar, having started visiting the public meetings of the People of God back in 1977. Living in war-torn Lebanon during the 1970s and early 1980s, we were unable to join the People of God until after the war.
However, after the birth of our third son, I started having second thoughts concerning Church. I was feeling dry inside. There was something I was missing. My husband was equally experiencing a personal crisis. After consulting with some leaders in the People of God, we were advised to explore the possibility of attending the Orthodox Church, since this was the Church into which we were originally baptized.
Slowly, we heeded this advice. The first year, everything seemed so foreign to us, and to our children as well. They missed their friends at Sunday school.
But little by little, the dryness in my heart was lessening. The worship, the psalms, the lyrics of the chants, the litanies and all the beautiful prayers of the Orthodox Church started growing on me and opening me up to a new dimension in worship, calling me to explore new depths in my relationship with the Lord and with the Orthodox Church.
Now, thirty years after this experience, I cannot but thank God for the Baptist Church, who first opened my heart to the love of God and to the love of his Word. I also thank the Lord for the wisdom he has endowed my brethren in the People of God in order to bring me back to the Church I belong to now.
In the Orthodox Church, our children got baptized, and grew up not only in the midst of the community life of the People of God but also in our Orthodox parish where two of them became cantors, and where I am a reader, while my husband serves on the administrative committee.
This article is excerpted from The Sword of the Spirit reflections for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity January 18 – 25 2022
Top image: Orthodox cross and dramatic sunset, from bigstock.com, © by pavel_klimenko, stock photo ID: 27207863, quote from John 17:21 added.
Ferial Baz and her husband Elias are members of The People of God community in Beirut, Lebanon.