Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect..
1 Peter 3:15
Since the emergence of COVID-19, we’ve noticed that people in our neighborhood have been struggling with a lot more fear and anxiety. It feels more common than ever to have friends asking us spiritual questions and to explain the hope that we have. Even in the midst of the plus 44ºC days with 60% humidity, Jesus has kept us busy as He is moving in people’s lives!
When we first moved to this city there was an opportunity for me to join a free art class in the community; it was the perfect way to meet new people and continue growing the language. By the end of the year I had made several friends, but there were only a few small opportunities to share about my faith. During the last class this summer, me and few of the women started to talk about the New Testament; eventually the whole group heard what we were talking about and one of the older women in the class began to explain to everyone how the New Testament has been changed, and it is not accurate anymore. This is what all M-lims are taught, and I’ve heard it too many times to count. In that moment I did my best to communicate to the women that it has not been changed the way they’ve been told, and that there are many proofs of its authenticity. To be honest I left that class feeling so grieved in my heart because I felt that whatever I said in defence of the New Testament was so insufficient and weak with my level of the local language.
A week later I got a text from one of my friends from the art class; one of the ones who was part of that initial conversation about the New Testament. She told me that she had downloaded the Bible to her phone and started researching and confessed that what she was reading was so beautiful. She had looked up a church in the city, and asked if I would go there with her the next day; of course I went with her.
She was able to come with us to a prayer meeting the following week at a local pastor’s home. During a time of worship there, I looked over at her; her face was literally beaming with joy, like she couldn’t stop smiling even if she tried. That evening she shared more of her journey with us all. She told us that four years ago she started to question Islam and began researching about Christianity. Since then she had stopped doing namaz (M-lim daily prayers) and stopped fasting during the month of Ramadan. Although in June of this past year she felt that she was supposed to join the fast again but instead of doing it the way she normally did in the past she felt she was supposed to do the fast “in the name of Jesus.” Wow, we were all amazed!
The weeks following were full of messages back and forth, and meeting up to talk more. What I noticed right away about her was her delight in reading the Word. She was reading large portions of scripture daily on her own time, full of eagerness and full of questions!
While we were away for a week in the big city, she sent me a message saying that she was decided; she was following after Jesus.
Since then she has told her brother, who is an atheist, and he was accepting of her news. Even though she wants to be fully open with her family, she’s confessed that she feels hesitant to tell her parents just yet, as she is unsure how they will react and she is afraid of being put in a situation that could dishonor them. We’re continually praying about this topic, and asking the Lord to soften their hearts, and bring about the perfect opportunity for her to be open with them about her faith in Jesus.
Weeks later, she still has the same hunger for reading His word! And even though she works six days a week, we are still able to meet at least once a week to read together, pray, and encourage each other. It is such an immense joy to see how Jesus led her to Himself, and continues to daily!
Through this experience Jesus has spoken to me a lot about the value of just “showing up” no matter how weak or inadequate I perceive that I am. I was so discouraged after my attempt at defending the New Testament in my art class because I felt that my efforts where not good enough. But Jesus was encouraging me that even though I have so much more to learn, my efforts to show up no matter what; even when they don’t measure up to my own standard. Jesus is challenging us to bring whatever we have, and give it away. Because that is the process of learning; and growth can only come in humility and weakness. It’s important that we don’t wait to be perfect in order to “show up” to the opportunities that arise each day, we must steward a love for learning and strive for excellence through the process of “showing up” with however little or much that we have to give. And this is the joy of partnering with Jesus, that even if all I have to give is something so small, He uses it 100 times more than I could have ever expected or imagined; because after all, He is always showing up. And when He shows up in our lives and the lives of those around us, something inside of us comes alive because that is what we are all really searching for.
– Pray for B in her journey of walking daily with Jesus; that she would grow to know Him so closely, that He will give her wisdom, courage and direction in when to share her new faith with her parents, and that they will be ready with open hearts when she does.
– Continue to pray for our neighbors’ residence permits to be approved. We are hoping they can get approved this month so that their children will be able to attend school this year.
– Pray for our friend D who is planning to move here from Canada this month. She has been hired as a teacher at a new school opening in our city, and will have an amazing opportunity to work with grade 9 students. Pray for her safe travel, grace to adjust, and provision for all her needs!
– Pray that we would have wisdom and guidance from Holy Spirit to know how and where to invest our time and energy as opportunities are in abundance. The Lord has also been guiding us to learn more about issues facing women in this culture, as well as local and global issues of injustice like human trafficking; we are exploring ways we can reach out to make a difference in our own community here. Pray that we are guided by His Spirit in every endeavor that we make in this regard.