My family and I had just arrived at our new assignment in the Middle East—a new country and a new culture. I felt like a small child as I viewed my surroundings, observing every detail to know what was expected of me.
That’s probably why in those first few days in our new home, I noticed that our neighbor’s door was wide open every time I walked by. Trying not to look too curious, I kept my glances quick. The front room was always filled with people, many more than I would expect to see at any family gathering. Chairs lined the room where folk sat quietly. Portraits of what looked like priests or bishops hung on the walls. I wondered whether our neighbor’s house was actually a church.
By the third day, I gathered my courage to ask another neighbor what was happening. She explained that the father of the family who lived in that home had been a high-ranking priest in their church. He had just passed away, and family and friends were paying their respects. Then, without even a pause, she asked me whether I’d be willing to visit the grieving family.
Just the thought was intimidating! I had yet to learn the social norms and didn’t know what was acceptable. I know that grief is a sensitive cultural experience, so I also knew I could easily offend. But I couldn’t say no. My wife and two boys promised to support me.
We must have looked a bit unusual as we stood quietly at their open door together; they were surprised that foreigners came to show respect. Graciously they welcomed us in and seemed to appreciate our attempt at a few Arabic words.
That’s when I first met Tony, a man deeply grieving the loss of his father. With tears in his eyes, he described his father to us as his best friend, his advisor. He seemed to have so much on his heart that I suggested we go out to dinner to continue our visit. This was the beginning.
Each time we met, Tony opened up more and more, sharing how heartbroken he was about losing his father. Each meeting gave us an opportunity to pray together. The prayers led to a deeper spiritual friendship. Tony began asking me questions such as “How can I know the will of God?” “How can I hear His voice?” “How can I deal with pain and suffering?” “Why are you different from other Christians I know?”
I asked Tony whether he would like to study the Bible together, and he accepted! At present, we meet once a week, and we’re learning about the beauty of the Sabbath, how God is able to save us, and what happens when we die.
Tony has accompanied my family twice to church and even brought a friend along the second time. He has begun to keep the Sabbath. Each Friday evening, Tony joins us for sundown worship. He is growing. Please keep him in your prayers.
As Tony and I take this journey together, I’m humbled that God is teaching me perhaps as much as He is teaching Tony. I’m learning that we too easily slip past open doors, feeling too intimidated or inadequate to step inside. I need your prayers too. Please pray that I will walk through every door God opens to meet those who long to find hope in Him.
Global Mission is all about reaching the unreached for Jesus. We do this in various ways, including through the service of Global Mission pioneers, urban centers of influence, Waldensian Students, and tentmakers who use their careers to share Christ. Please support Global Mission in the Middle East and North African Union with your prayers and donations at Global-Mission.org/giving.
To see what’s happening in mission in the Middle East and North Africa Union, visit m360.tv/middleeast.