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A Journey of Faith: Taxi Rides with Tarek

My children and I stood in the shade of a tree, shielding ourselves from the hot North African sun while my husband Kevin stood on the sunny sidewalk attempting to flag down a taxi. A white car with a band of black and white checkers on the side pulled up in front of him.

The driver, a man in his fifties, leaned toward the passenger window, awaiting my husband’s request.

“Garden Shopping Center,” Kevin said.

The driver nodded. “Yes, okay. Don’t worry. Get in,” he replied in English.

I hustled our children into the back seat of the taxi as Kevin climbed in the front seat. “Where are you from?” the driver asked.

“America,” Kevin said. “How about you?”

“I’m from Syria,” the driver responded.

“Oh. I prayed for your country this morning!” Kevin blurted out.

I cringed a little in the back seat at Kevin’s response. What was that emotion in me? Embarrassment? Shame? What did it matter if this taxi driver knew Kevin prayed? Why did I feel like hiding?

It was true after all. Kevin had spent a couple hours that morning, as he often did, in our team’s prayer room. And he had prayed for Syria.

Although I felt sheepish and not very brave about sharing our spiritual lives with this taxi driver, I look back and see that all it took was Kevin’s casual comment, and Tarek, the taxi driver, was hooked. We didn’t know it at the time, but that was the day Tarek’s pursuit of Jesus shifted into high gear.



Not many weeks later, Tarek would confess to us, “I will follow Jesus forever. It is finished.”



Riding in Tarek’s taxi became a daily experience for our family. And many times I spent my ride praying from the back seat, asking Jesus to soften the atmosphere in the taxicab as Tarek drove us through our host city. Along the way, we learned a bit of his story.

Tarek had been an engineer in Syria. While still in his home country, the police hijacked his car, took Tarek out of the city, and deserted him in only his underwear. Tarek had to walk several hours in search of a phone to call someone for help.

Days later, using his car’s GPS tracker, Tarek was able to locate his car. Apparently, the police were aware of the activation of the tracking system. The following morning, in immediate retaliation, they came and brutally threatened Tarek’s son. Fearing for their lives, Tarek and his family fled from Syria within 24 hours.

After arriving in his temporary country and our host country, Tarek planned to start up an engineering business, only to have his money stolen by a man who acted like a new friend. With little left, Tarek set his profession aside and started driving a taxi. Meanwhile, he set his hopes on somehow gaining refugee status in a country where he already had some family.



Syrian police hijacked his car and deserted Tarek outside the city in only his underwear. When they brutally threatened his son, Tarek decided it was time for them to flee Syria.



Just a few weeks after we met him, Tarek employed Kevin to help him with the paperwork and visa application for his eventual move. As they poured over the forms, Tarek asked Kevin, “What is this word ‘seek’? What does this mean?”

“‘Seek’ is to look for something, to want something,” Kevin said. Then his Spirit-led boldness struck. “Jesus talked about seeking and finding.” Tarek simply turned the conversation back to the logistical matter of filling out paperwork.

A couple days later, however, as we sat in the taxi, Tarek said, “Kevin, tell me again about what Jesus says about ‘seek.’ I love it when you talk about Jesus. I want to understand.”

“Jesus promised when we seek Him, we will find Him,” Kevin explained as I prayed in the back seat.

Was Tarek really deeply interested or not? we wondered. But as the weeks passed, Tarek’s driving slowed whenever we got in his taxi. He and Kevin would talk endlessly about Jesus, about Islam, about the Bible. Rides with Tarek became much less efficient in getting us from Point A to Point B. We felt like audience members—watching God the Father calling a new child into His family.

“We should study the Bible together,” Kevin suggested one day. “I’ll see if I can get you one.”

Tarek’s entire face lit up, and his posture straightened. “Yes! Really? Yes! I love you so much, Kevin. You are my brother.” Tarek followed this with the hugs and kisses that are the typical Arab demonstration of friendship.


Join us next week for part 2 of Tarek’s journey of faith.


This account comes from Annie Farmer, a long-term Frontiers worker who grew up with no aspiration whatsoever to live overseas. God changed her heart and sent her to South Asia for three years. Annie now lives in the Middle East with her husband and three children. She has a deep passion for prayer and desires to see her Muslim friends come to Jesus Christ.

**Names and places have been changed for security.**