The following post is written by an East-West home office staff member.
“What is your greatest fear in sharing the gospel?”
My mentor sat across from me in a coffee shop while I was a senior in college and asked me the question as we talked about our lives. I thought for a moment, and the answer was pretty easy to find.
“I’m afraid that I will meet a Muslim someday, and the Lord will ask me to share the gospel with them.”
More than rejection, more than looking dumb, more than someone responding in anger, my greatest area of fear in sharing the gospel was talking to a Muslim.
Whenever I saw a Muslim woman coming towards me in the grocery store wearing her traditional hijab, I would somehow find a way to change my direction and continue up another aisle. If I could avoid her gaze and presence, maybe I could ignore the quickened heartrate and sweaty palms that usually accompanied the still small voice of the Holy Spirit asking me to face my fears and open my mouth.
Muslims were dangerous. They wanted to kill us as I had heard repeated so many times. They didn’t want to listen to what I had to say about Jesus Christ. They were violent.
My mentor just smiled at me and said, “I can’t wait to see what the Lord does with that.”
Just a year later, I had begun a discipleship school within a local church. Each year, the school took an extended missions trip overseas to live out what we had learned during the nine month course. When they announced our location, I almost ran out of the room.
The Middle East. The war zone. The place where safety was a long lost dream.
The Syrian refugee crisis was reaching its height that year, and our school leaders felt burdened by the Lord. We could use our faith in Jesus Christ to give hope to these broken people.
The Middle East.
I wanted to walk right up to the director of the school and tell him that I would be declining the trip. But that still small voice of the Lord would not allow me to take those steps. Instead, in the weeks of trainings and prayer, the Lord poured out His heartbreak and love for Muslims and these broken refugees into my heart in a way that I can barely describe. I would watch the news and weep at the horror that they had to endure. I watched videos of the boats in Greece and the long walk to Europe and couldn’t look away.
Despite my fear. Despite my hesitation. I knew that the Lord was calling me to a place of discomfort, but more importantly, trust.
People called me insane for flying to the Middle East. Sometimes, I wholeheartedly agreed with them.
But more than my nervousness and the opinions of others, I had this deep sense that I had to do this. The Lord was calling me into deeper waters of obedience.
I stepped off the plane and found a very normal country with great food, beautiful views, and gorgeous sunrises. They had grocery stores, malls, shops…so very much like my own city. My ideas had been shaped by an incorrect notion of this part of the world. These people lived normal lives just like me. They just believed something that I knew wasn’t the Truth.
During my first visit to a Syrian family, my hands were sweating and shaking as we approached the door. Would they throw us out? Would they be terrorists?
It is hard not to feel ashamed of those thoughts now.
When they opened the door, they had bright smiles and excitement in their faces. My translator quietly whispered for me to remove my shoes as I stumbled in my nervousness. They lived in a tiny hut the size of my garage here in America. Yet, they offered us their sleeping mats as our seats.
We were the guests of honor. Before we could blink, the door opened and another family rushed into great us as well. We were soon pampered with tea (and a lot of sugar), fruits, crackers, and anything that they could find in their kitchen.
Through our translator, we heard their story. They had fled Syria to this country as the war had broken out. They had lost family members who decided to stay behind when the bombs fell. To them, their tiny home was a place of comfort and safety from the horrors in their own country.
I told one woman, Miriam, that I really liked her red headscarf. Her eyes filled with tears, and she could barely whisper a few sentences in Arabic. My translator said that it belonged to her daughter, who had gone with her husband north to the “death boats” to try and make it to Germany. She still hadn’t heard if they had survived.
In that moment, fear disintegrated. An indescribable love filled my heart. I couldn’t speak her language, but I took her hand with tears in my eyes and just held it. She leaned her head on my shoulder, and we cried together.
At the end of the afternoon, the entire household prayed to receive Christ.
How does that happen?
It happens because the Lord loves Muslims. He loves them. There is a huge move of the Holy Spirit in Muslims across the world in a way that we have never seen. They are flocking to the Cross in droves.
The Lord has continuously called me to the uncomfortable place I once had of ministering to Muslims. I work with a refugee outreach ministry in the United States, and I have many refugee families that I would call close friends.
Who is the enemy? The devil. And he is losing his grip on the religion of Islam.
I would challenge you with this, as my mentor once challenged me:
“What is your greatest fear in sharing the Gospel?”
I can’t wait to see what the Lord does with that…