Two days later…
The next conversation I had with Mayar was an intense conversation about God:
“Did God answer my prayer because I am good? Does He answer bad people, too?”
I prayed for wisdom. God brought an answer to my mind in the form of an example:
“I will answer your question with some questions, okay? But first I want you to picture the best father you can imagine…the kindest father who loves his children well.” I asked God if that would be difficult for her, given what she endures on a regular basis.
Moments passed. “Okay…I can see him.”
“Let’s say that while he’s not looking, his young daughter steals a cookie from the counter and tries to run off to hide from her dad, but in the process she falls and hits her head,” I began, “When she begins to cry out and call for him, do you think that her father would turn his back to her, walking away or leaving her there?”
“Of course not!”
“Well, that’s how God is.”
From that point on in the conversation, we spoke about the love of God, just as we had many times before, but this time she understood—and her understanding enabled His love to sink into her heart.
And of course, love for God leads to Jesus. This time, our discussion of the stories leading up to Jesus’ coming and dying on the cross made sense to her. The Holy Spirit was ministering to her heart! The rest of our conversation that day was spent discussing the Bible’s assertion that sin requires a blood sacrifice and that God came to earth to pay that price through Jesus. As our conversation came to a close, I asked, “Do you just want to start meeting to discuss these things more?”
Mayar responded with a vibrant, “Yes! Can we?!”
Six days later…
The day we met for our first planned discussion, I spent the morning praying fervently for Jesus’ help in explaining His truth to Mayar in ways that are most meaningful to her.
And at the end of the day, I sat back, astounded at what He had done in this little Middle Eastern neighborhood.
In a span of 3 hours, Mayar asked more poignant questions than some Christians ask in a decade! Throughout the history of my friendship with Mayar, never once has she been combative—yet she knows how to ask incisive questions and get to the heart of a matter. When she came over this past afternoon, we first read slowly through Genesis 1, pausing so she could ask questions and make comments.
Before moving to the Arab world, I received advice from a seasoned team member here: “Never tell Muslims what to do. Let them come to the answers on their own.”
Essentially, let God be God! So I sought the Lord for how to answer Mayar’s questions, and I would either point her to other Scriptures or would answer her with more questions that gave context to her topics. And then I did the hardest thing for me to do: I shut my mouth!
What was so exciting was that with each pause in the Creation story, she would say things like, “The Quran says something similar, but now I know that God is actually…” and she would make a statement based on what she was learning about the character of God through Scripture. She accepted the Holy Word as authoritative.
As our discussion about Scripture progressed, Mayar huffed, “How can you know all this? How can you know so much about the Bible and remember it?” I asked her if she remembered our discussion about the Trinity from weeks ago. “Yes, I remember, but who is the third part of the Trinity?!” She was ready to know.
We read in John 14 and 15 how Jesus promised that when His time on Earth was done that He would send a “Helper” who would be to people’s benefit. Then we turned to Acts 1 and 2 in which 120 people were waiting in an upper room in Jerusalem, praying and seeking what was next until the Holy Spirit came and empowered His people.
Mayar made the connection from John to Acts on her own: “The Helper was the Holy Spirit!” she declared. This is pivotal because the Quran pronounces the Prophet Mohammed as the “Helper” to come.
We ended up talking for hours longer as I shared my testimony and how the Holy Spirit has moved in my life. I ended with this: “Mayar, I can remember things about God and His Holy Word because I have a great Helper!” Then I felt led to ask her another question: “Mayar, do you want to have Jesus walk with you and have the Holy Spirit guide you?”
“Yes, I do.” She said this with so much somberness that it caught me off guard.
“To be a follower of Jesus, you need to truly understand why Jesus came and accept that your sins are forgiven. And you must ask to be forgiven.” These statements led to more conversation until Mayar assured me that she understood what I was saying.
“Do you believe these things?” I asked her.
“Then let’s pray.”
Weariness appeared on her face; we had prayed together before, but this time she knew that she was supposed to be an active participant. Now, with the “sinner’s prayer,” people have to be careful to not project their culture into the Gospel when operating in another context. My goal is not to make disciples of my culture’s version of Christianity; my goal is to find people, or even one person, who “gets it” and in turn, shares the Gospel with his or her people. I felt like it was important that Mayar make the leap of talking to Jesus directly. Timidity is usually worn around Mayar’s neck like a scarf.
Sensing her hesitation, I addressed it: “I know it feels weird to talk to God directly. I can say some statements first, and if you TRULY agree with them, you can repeat after me. If you don’t, Mayar, you do NOT have to say them, nor should you because you are speaking to God.”
Mayar repented for her sins, asked Jesus to walk with her, and asked the Holy Spirit to be her Great Comforter and Guide.
Then I asked her, “Who can you share what you learned with this week?”
She replied, “My best friend first…and then everyone! I can pass on what information I know to anyone who needs comfort.”
I know that many spiritual victories will happen in the future. Mayar’s faith and testimony will unlock doors that keep her family from freedom!
Please pray for Mayar, that Jesus will continue to move in her life. In her culture, becoming a Christian is illegal. Please pray against the persecution she is likely to receive. Please pray that “He who has done a great work in her will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6). Pray that because of Mayar, her family will know Jesus as Lord.