“I would not be a surprised if you assumed from my name that I was not of Irish origin, and you would be half right. I am Irish—Tunisian: born in London; raised in Limerick. My unusual name comes from my father’s side as he is from Tunisia, and they are practising Muslims. My mother is from Limerick and was a nominal Catholic, and allowed my father to raise me in the Muslim faith, but my teenage years and subsequent way of life was not particularly lived as a Muslim, but rather my life was predominantly ruled by a typical ‘lad’s’ life. My mother was a well-qualified professional and my brother and I had quite a good upbringing. School was turbulent, as I, an unrepentant sinner, took great pleasure in messing and making life difficult for my teachers, my Mum, and me. I put no effort in to my school work, but most effort in to sports and musical endeavours.
From my early years, I enjoyed music and took up the guitar. I was part of a Heavy Metal band from a young age. The band that I was in during my latter teens and early twenties enjoyed a fair bit of success in competitions, and gained popularity. We gigged all over the country and I also worked successfully as a DJ for nightclubs and parties. Needless to say, along with the lifestyle, came the recreational drugs, drink, entertainment, and every trapping offered a young guy today. I spent so much time doing gigs at night, and sleeping the days out that I soon dropped out of college. I was studying Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Life was rolling along in the slipstream of pleasure, and I did not take much time to think about God apart from some anti-God objections I might have added to a discussion with mates on evolution.
When I was around 20, a friend of mine who had been a staunch evolutionist but was saved at 17, sat with me one evening and started to tell me that he had found that evolution was fable, and that God and creation were real. The things he presented in favour of creation that evening were very convincing and unsettling to tell you the truth. If creation and God was real, where did that leave me? These conversations went on for months. We spoke about everything from geo-political world events to the verity of the bible and the science behind it. Eventually, I responded to my friend’s invitation to go to a church meeting. And then another meeting, and another. Hearing the preaching was uncanny. It was as if the preacher knew me, knew what I was going through, and knew what I had been talking about with friends. Around the same time, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and his prognosis was not good. This news brought me to a crisis point and the reality of life after death. At this point, I began to pray for my dad because there was nothing else I could do. I was so out of control I thought, “it can't hurt”. My friend who had been sharing about God with me posed to me the question one day, “Sof, if God is real and He is the God who created all things, and knows all things, then why not ask Him to reveal Himself to you? If He is real, He will reveal Himself to you. And if he isn't, nothing will change.” I thought “That makes sense, what have I got to lose?”
I took a serious stock of my own life, and just as my friend had been telling me, I cried out to God. I began to go to church regularly, and almost every week, without fail, it was as if the preacher had had a surveillance camera on my personal life. (Now I know that that was the Spirit of God convicting and drawing me to Christ.) I began to shed the things of this world, one by one. First, I resigned from my position as a DJ in the local large nightclub, then I moved out of my smoke filled flat, and moved back home to my mother’s, but for some time I was still in a band, and still smoking weed. But about 6 months after I attended church regularly, I really cried out to God for help to go deeper in the things of God. I knew I couldn't continue on as a professing Christian and yet keep this drug in my life. I first tried giving up weed itself and continued to hold on to my cigarettes. I was brought to a real crisis when a close friend attempted to self-harm and ended up in hospital—she was addicted to alcohol.
I sat telling her about the saving power of Jesus Christ, the born-again experience, and His power to help you overcome the things of the flesh. I felt like a hypocrite. Could I tell her God can deliver her from drink, with a cigarette hanging from my mouth? In the coming days I went home one night and got on my face before God. He delivered me from my addiction that night, and by His grace granted me a heart to follow Him with all my heart. Then the Spirit of God really put His finger on the band issue, and I knew I would have to resign the band. Keith Malcomson preached one Wednesday evening from Proverbs 23:23. It says to, “buy the truth and sell it not”. I knew to ‘buy the truth’ of God and make Him mine, I would have to pay for it with what I held dear. I wrestled over this, wondering how I should do it, as I knew my mates would be very disappointed. We were brothers, but my heart was changed, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I needed and wanted to obey God in this. I no longer wanted to write songs that would one day perish. I wanted to write about the King of Kings; songs that would last forever. And so I left the band. My last gig with Milk Baby was on the 5th December, 2013. In the same month I was DJ for the last time at a wedding. I was left with no income, so the next challenge was to find work.
I really prayed about this as I did not want to take a job which meant I would have to work on Sundays and preferably wanted to be in Wednesday evening Bible studies too. A job in a call centre did come my way and for the first time in my adult life I had to sleep at night to be awake during the day! That job gave me good experience and I had to be consistent and diligent. At first my mother was not sure about the changes in me—she nearly preferred the ‘normal’ young guy who was partying all night and sleeping all day—but when she saw that the changes were more permanent than her fears, she relaxed and began to be very grateful for a son who now helped around the house rather than lay about the house.”