Faith Through Family

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From the Winter 2008 issue of Relationships magazine.

Julianna came to the United States to live with the Haddad family as part of the Amicus program, which pairs exchange students with host families who want to share the love of Christ by sharing their lives with international students.

An only child in her hometown of Munich, Germany, in America Julianna found herself surrounded by four host siblings, two host parents and a Young Life community ready to embrace her. Shortly after her arrival, she celebrated her 16th birthday and was amazed at all the friends of the Haddads who came to a party in her honor.

Because the Haddads are on Young Life staff, Julianna tasted club and Campaigners. But she was also intrigued by church, and looked forward to going with them every week. She became involved with a small group there and that, coupled with the loving and transparent relationships the Haddads sought to provide, gave Julianna fertile ground for her budding faith to take root.

“We trusted that wherever the seeds of faith fell, they would grow,” said Nancy Haddad.

Julianna, who tended to be shy when among large groups, developed friendships with Haddad and her daughter, Nicole. “Julianna was open to sharing what she felt,” Haddad said. “After a while she was more trusting, sharing her struggles, her feelings and her insecurities.”

The Haddad family could tell that Julianna didn’t need much prompting to explore Christianity. “We hoped and prayed that whether it was at our house, or down the road, she would find God,” Haddad said. “The words of Jeremiah 29:13 resounded in our hearts: ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’”

Sure enough, at a Good Friday service, Julianna made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. And a month later, she made a public declaration of her transformation and was baptized into a new spiritual family — with her host mother right at her side. Shortly before Julianna left America to return to Germany, the Young Life community again gathered for another birthday — but this party celebrated her re-birth into the family of God. She was showered with Christian books, CDs and DVDs to keep her encouraged on her journey and to remind her of her home in America and her new eternal home with God.