The Tentmaker’s Story Goes On
My first contact with Irshad (not his real name) was the Sabbath morning a fellow church member handed me a slip of paper scribbled with a name and number. “This man might be interested in spiritual things,” my friend commented. I felt compelled to make contact immediately.
It only took a few minutes of my first visit in Irshad’s home to realize that God had already been working for a long time in his life, through many people, and he was not a casual interest.
After the usual courtesies, Irshad launched into his story. He informed me that he already knew Jesus based on his study of his faith. He explained he had attended a well-known national university to become a sheikh and, in the process of his studies, he had noticed the vast difference between the holy books. He concluded the Bible was inspiring, not corrupt. Years later, after he joined the army, a Christian friend had urged him to leave the military and, in their words, “become a servant of God.”
Soon after that unusual advice, Irshad had a dream where someone delivered the same message to him: “Quit being a soldier; to serve God is better.” Dutifully, he left the army and began studying what he could about Christianity. A Christian friend noticed his interest and urged him to be baptized. He was thrilled to experience baptism, but he realized he knew very little about Christianity and even less about the Bible. He told me how puzzled he felt. No one seemed to think he needed to do anything beyond accepting Jesus or that there was anything more for him to know.
As Irshad ended his story, he reached out to me with pleading eyes, “Would you teach me so I could know more about Jesus?” Would I be interested? Would I be willing to tell Irshad more? Did I have the time? Absolutely!
Since that visit months ago, Irshad and I have been studying the Bible together every week. Together we need your prayers. Irshad’s role as a leader among his people can be the path to Jesus for many others; as he learns and follows, a community will learn as well and have the opportunity to meet Jesus and be ready for His coming.
–Asim, the tentmaker in this issue’s MENA STORY
In God’s Hands
For two years we had been studying the Bible with Haneen, a Syrian young adult who was part of our Pathfinder Club. She was interested, responsive, and seemed to understand everything we studied together. But we never saw her take any step toward a decision about what she was learning. We didn’t know what else we could study!
Last year, on the final night of Ramadan, after having a meaningful study with her, my husband and I knelt in prayer. We knew that only the Holy Spirit could convict her. We placed Haneen in God’s hands. We claimed His ability to bring her to a decision how and when she was ready.
The next morning I opened my phone to see a message from her: “I know that I still don’t know everything about the Bible, but I’m thinking about baptism.” Tears filled my eyes as I read the rest of her message. “I want to continue studying the Bible even after I become part of you.”
The pandemic slowed the celebration of her decision for Jesus, but she has finally taken that step. And, as God does so often, we’ve been reminded that He will patiently continue the work He has begun, no matter how long or how circuitous the path is. We are simply tools in His hands to share, teach, and invite. The real work in Haneen’s heart has been His.
-–A Gospel Mission Pioneer