Everyday Christian: I'm a better person because I talked to Leila Abdallah

At the start of February, the Abdallah family returned to the headlines. It had been one year since three of Leila and Danny Abdallah’s children – Antony, Angelina and Sienna –  were killed when a drunk driver crashed into them in suburban Sydney. Their cousin Veronique Sakr was also killed.

You would still remember Leila and Danny and how they reacted to this horrible accident. Everybody remembers the Abdallahs.

With grief and sadness washing through them like other parents when confronted with the death of a child, the Abdallahs also radiated forgiveness and peace in all the interviews and footage of them in the aftermath. Yes, I know. Forgiveness.

About one week on from when the children were killed last year, my Bible study group discussed the Abdallahs’ unmissable trust in God and his purposes for their family. You probably did the same and marvelled at what we were struck by – how their Christian faith was so prominent and profound, as it blared publicly through their televised mourning.

I contacted Leila a few weeks ago to ask if she and Danny would be available, and comfortable, to be interviewed about the past year.

I don’t know the Abdallahs but Leila got back to me quickly and was glad to again share her struggles, source of hope and stories of being blessed through tragedy. Yes, I know. Blessed. Through tragedy.

Talking with Leila about blessings from suffering – real suffering – was powerful. Blessings such as Leila and Danny being better able now to care for others who are grieving. Blessings like abundant opportunities to point people to their engine-room of purpose and healing in their lives.

I feel like a better person just for speaking with Leila Abdallah.

I share the same faith as Leila and Danny, and agree with them that Jesus said following him would not equal an easy, pain-free life. But what they are going through, and what they have been able to take comfort and strength in, can still feel academic to me. Untested. Like I’m waiting for things in life to really attack my faith and then let’s see if I hold to what the Abdallahs hold to.

Speaking with Leila has got me thinking about whether I am someone who can be that for others. A fellow believer who exhibits an encouraging, sincere faith at any and every turn.

You might already know people like the Abdallahs. Christians whose forged faith is so compelling that you feel invigorated and enhanced simply through the way they steadily raise our eyes and hearts to God. Because it’s not about them, Leila persists. So please don’t mistake these words here as an ode to the Abdallahs. They wouldn’t want that.

Rather, this is a tribute to who the Abdallahs honour – almighty God and his saviour son Jesus. And how they reveal themselves through the Abdallahs.

Speaking with Leila has got me thinking about whether I am someone who can be that for others. A fellow believer who exhibits an encouraging, sincere faith at any and every turn.

The New Testament is awash with sentences and paragraphs about building up the faith of other brothers and sisters in Christ. Leila and Danny Abdallah are living that out.

I now feel slightly better equipped to do the same, thanks to one conversation I had just a couple of weeks ago with a grieving but convicted mother.

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