Please meet Abu-Alexei. Take notice that his name is not Alexei, that is his eldest son’s name. In Eastern culture a man is known by the name of his firstborn son. When a woman gets pregnant in the Middle East, the saying is "may your first child be a strong and healthy son."
I am Abu-Alexei.
To be honest, my wife and I shed many tears over our son's disability. However, God shows time and time again that He has a plan and that He has made everything beautiful in His time.
Alexei has never met a stranger in his life; he is a super open and friendly teenager who loves to meet new people.
Since we live in a small town of about 30,000 people, he has met virtually everyone. He often doesn’t remember their names, but he sure leaves a lasting positive impression. He enjoys telling people about God and struggles when his peers laugh or call him mean names, but it is amazing how quickly he forgives them and goes back to tell them more.
Oftentimes, when people meet me for the first time they say, "Oh, yes! You are Alexei's dad!" because they have known him way before they met me. In so many ways, Alexei is paving the way for the Gospel to be proclaimed in our town.
I am proud to be Abu-Alexei!
I have a friend from Iraq, let’s call him Faiz. He shared a story about when he was in grade school, his teacher gave students a form where they needed to write their address, phone number, parents’ names, etc. For his parents’ names Faiz put “Abu-Faiz” (Faiz’ Dad) and “Um-Faiz” (Faiz’ Mom) because during all of his childhood everyone around called his parents that. The teacher thought that my friend was a few fries short of a happy meal, but this is how eastern cultures think.
Who is your tribe?
In the West you hear people ask each other “So, where do you work?” This is because in Western culture people derive their significance from what they do. Interestingly enough, in Russia they often ask, “Where did you go to College/University?”
I still remember spending summers at my grandparents’ village and being asked by neighbors who didn’t know me, “So, who is your grandfather?” The answer to this question told them everything they needed to know about my socio-economic status, education, worldview, future political affiliation and more.
Have you noticed how much time the Scriptures devote to describe a person’s lineage? It is of utmost importance for eastern cultures to know where one comes from. Another equally crucial question is “what kind of legacy one leaves behind?”
This is why it was so painful for Abram to be childless. Maybe he wasn’t mocked out loud, but you can almost hear the sneers of his neighbors: “look at him… no son… how pitiful… he’s a nobody”
All of his life up to the age of 99 none of Abram’s vast wealth, experience or personal accomplishments mattered. He endured being a nobody in the eyes of everyone around him. Everyone, except for God! So when the Lord changed his name to mean “the Father of many Nations” he was sending Abraham a message that he was somebody and that “all families of the earth be blessed” through him!
Have you considered your lineage?
Maybe you come from a family with a rich spiritual heritage, having seen first-hand God’s faithful leading in the lives of your ancestors. If this is the case, remember: to whom much is given much is required! Do not neglect to live out your faith in dependence on God’s faithful promises and to entrust this spiritual inheritance to your descendants.
If, on the other hand, you come from a family “tribe” that is as far from God as the East is from the West; if you are considered an outcast, a nobody… take heart. You have the privilege of changing your family history and breaking the cycle of insignificance. In Christ you are a new creation — you are a part of a priestly tribe, holy, precious and blessed.
Consider the legacy you leave behind. Will it endure for just a few short years, or will it bless everyone whom it comes in contact with for generations to come? Consider who you are in God’s eyes and Whose you are. You can only serve one master.