<strong>God Was Here First</strong>

MENA Stories February 2, 2023

We began praying for God to show His power, but God was years ahead of us.

When my wife and I first received our assignment as Global Mission Pioneers in a dark region of a closed country in the Middle East, we knew we would be stepping into challenge.  But the work was even harder than we expected.

Realizing it was humanly impossible for us to make any impact at all, we began praying for God’s power to show Himself through signs and wonders.  We knew only He could open their tightly guarded hearts and dispel their misconceptions and fears. We didn’t know about Asli’s dreams. 

She had been having dreams for years.  She could not explain them nor did her husband or daughter understand what she was experiencing.  She shared with her family that Jesus was appearing to her and inviting her to follow Him.  In their concern, they took her to every kind of spiritual teacher they knew, with no answers.  Every medical doctor they visited had their own diagnosis, each one identifying a different problem in her brain.  The dreams continued for five  years.

In one, Jesus came to her with the question, “Do you love Me?”  In response, she asked to see His face.  She noticed He was smiling at her.  In another, He invited her to “Come to Me.”  She ran to meet Him.  In still another dream she saw two churches, with Jesus standing between them and pointing to one of the churches, indicating which one she could attend.  She understood clearly that He was inviting her to become a Christian.  She was researching what that might mean when she had another vision.  This time the Holy Spirit was talking together with Jesus and the Father.  She knew the implication and began researching different Christian faiths and contacting various religious groups.

During this time, Asli had one dream where Jesus was reading the Old Testament.  He invited her to read it with Him and become His disciple. After thinking about the meaning of the dream for some time, she decided to contact some Jewish groups on social media.  When they explained that they celebrate the seventh day as their worship day she thought it was a curious tradition, but it did not seem to satisfy what Jesus was showing her.

Finally, a Christian friend who knew what she was experiencing suggested she look online to find a church in her region where she might find her questions answered. In her search she came across a page for our church with our personal contact information included.  When we finally made phone contact, I naturally invited her to come join our Sabbath worship meeting.

I don’t know why I was surprised when Asli showed up to our house group with her husband and a bouquet of flowers for my wife.  It was clear she assumed she was at the end of her search. 

“I’m so happy to meet you.  It seems I have finally found my family–people who can understand me,” she announced.  It was the most natural thing to suggest we begin Bible studies together.  She was ready to start the following day.  Our first study together was on Creation; she appeared satisfied by what she was learning.  The next day I received a message from her:

“I have been researching for a long time about tithing, and I have a good opinion about it.  I know that God requires it from us, but because I’m not following His instructions, it seems so much of my money is being wasted.”  She wanted to know if I could help her with some questions about tithing.  I was shocked, because in the culture around us it can be one of the hardest truths to embrace even for a sincere seeker.  

So  we had a Bible Study on tithing that same day.  Knowing the hurdles, I asked her to pray about her decision and ask God to guide her in what she should do.  She contacted me the next day informing me that she understood from her Bible what God was inviting her to do, and she would begin returning her tithe to the Adventist Church.  In her words, “You treated me so well, and I feel part of this family.  I want my tithe to help this ministry and the work you are beginning in our city.”

In answer to our prayers, long before we prayed them, God was working in Asli’s life.  No one was near to explain, no one available to guide her.  But He kept near her as He waited for someone to tell her more.  This region has not been sold to the enemy.  These people are being preserved for God.