We’ve been sharing stories this month from the Arab World, and today we thought we’d have one of our workers share personally her experience of ministry in this area that desperately needs Jesus. I think you’ll be encouraged and challenged by her stories of how the hope of the gospel is breaking through to change lives.
If you walk through the streets of our Old City, located in the heart of the capital where we live, you would find an old Anglican church. If you came through the doors, you would find an interesting mix of Indians (who worship conservatively), of Nigerians (who worship colorfully), and a handful of us who represent the “Western community”.
What you won’t see at first glance are any local believers.
In our context not only is it forbidden by law, but there are many eyes watching posing a great threat to any who would have the courage to pass through the doors. God is moving mightily in our context and in their search for answers, some are taking the risk to pass through the door.
One individual entered with a question: “I just need forgiveness; is there someone here who can pray for me?” Another came into the church and upon seeing the cross, ran out of the building screaming—evidence of the battle raging over just one soul and how our enemy hates the Cross triumphant. Many will enter under the guise of just coming in to take photographs, but in their eyes, it’s obvious that they want more.
When we visited this land back in 2013, one of the first things we were told was something that we’ve heard countless times since: “To be ____ is to be Muslim! We are 100% Muslim here.” This was our confirmation within minutes upon our arrival in the country that this was the place for our family.
We are happy to report that this “100%” is increasingly not the case, praise the Lord! When we arrived nearly 4 years ago, we could count the believers we knew of in the capital on one hand, in the past year alone we have seen that number more than quadruple.
Whenever we share with our friends that we know of local believers, we are met with an incredulous, “Impossible!” We have learned that they first need to realize that there is a possibility to be anything other than a part of the Muslim majority, which is a concept that all find inconceivable apart from the Holy Spirit birthing the possibility in their hearts. God is bringing them in and we are privileged to be present at a time when the Spirit is moving. If you were to visit our church, you might find it an unlikely place for people to be drawn to, but they repeatedly keep walking through the doors in search of relief and hope, and some of these are coming to faith.
Over this past year, we have stood alongside those who have felt the first of what will likely be many waves of persecution. We have seen a faithful few be willing to gather together in His name and we are asking the Father to grow His church. Reading Acts together, this small band of believers identifed with what they were reading saying: “This is us!” (Interestingly, people from our country were among those listed as present at the Day of Pentecost.)
While we explain that the physical church building is in fact, just a building, they attach much greater significance to it than we understand. Some have been willing to face the risk of attending a service or come secretly at non-service times. Please pray with us that God will raise up laborers who will come and serve with a specific focus of the church—a place where God is bringing people through the doors!
While we long for greater numbers to come, what we’ve observed this past year has been a beautiful picture of the way that God so loves and pursues the people around us, that He has been bringing them in and even literally to our doors, and then miraculously intersects their paths with ours, like when we received a phone call from someone who said “I have a friend who you know from outside the country, she says you have a group that meets—can I come?”
Another person, who was brought to our door by a Muslim friend who had been learning about Christ, showed up saying “I love Jesus” and eagerly chose to be baptized 24 hours later. One individual, after visiting our home, asked a mutual friend, “What was that I felt? Was that the Holy Spirit?” Another woman who has yet to come to the faith, was watching a film scene of the death of Jesus on the cross. Her eyes were fixed on the screen, and she said, “He did that because He loves us.”
These are the rumblings.
This is an awakening.
We pray that it truly is the book of Acts again just as our friends describe their experience.
Lord, let it be so. Build your church in our land. Raise up local believers with the boldness and fullness of the Spirit we see in Acts. May there be signs and wonders. May the Believers grow with deep roots and maturity. Cause their hearts be supernaturally turned toward one another and broken over those around them who have yet to know the treasure of Jesus. Jesus is moving and is worthy of their praise, yours, and ours!
Join us in giving Him glory and thank you for believing with us for the harvest of this nation.
And thanks as always, for being a part of this community. We couldn’t do this without you.