If someone tells the authorities that you’ve been preaching, talking about Jesus, or giving someone Christian material, you can be imprisoned, deported, tortured, or killed.
What are the chances that a non-Christian searching for truth will meet a Christian in the capital of one of the most closed countries to Christianity in the Middle East? Humanly speaking, it’s almost impossible, yet God works in miraculous ways!
One evening, a friend of mine was trying to sell some Adventist books. She approached a young man whom I’ll call Ali to protect his identity. “I don’t have any money on me,” Ali said, “but if you give me your phone number, I’ll call you later.”
We often hear this response from people who aren’t interested in making a purchase, but Ali did call my friend. He said he had many questions about religion and would like to meet with her to learn more. “In fact,” he said, “I’d love to have a Bible. Would it be possible for you to get me one?”
This wouldn’t be such a significant request if you lived in the West. But you need to be very cautious in this region of the world. If someone tells the authorities that you’ve been preaching, talking about Jesus, or giving someone Christian material, you can be imprisoned, deported, tortured, or killed. Despite the risk, my friend and I met with Ali quickly and gave him a Bible.
Number of Adventists in the Middle East and North Africa Union.
Estimated Sabbath attendance at the Loma Linda University Church in Loma Linda, California.
86 percent of Muslims worldwide are not aware of having ever met a Christian.
Islam is the fastest-growing major religion worldwide.
Ali started reading his Bible in secret so that his family wouldn’t know. He began to ask more and more questions and wanted to talk with us about what he was discovering. It was as if a new horizon was opening up before him.
My friend and I wanted to talk with Ali, but we didn’t know where we should meet. I couldn’t invite him to my house, and we couldn’t go to his. We thought about meeting at a restaurant, but it would be hard to be discrete with people sitting so close to us.
Finally, we decided to meet Ali at the city park for a picnic. It was a large open space with people constantly coming and going. We arrived first, and Ali arrived a few minutes later. Like us, he was nervous.
Ali told us he wanted to discover the truth for himself. “I don’t want to learn from anyone else because everyone I talk to tells me it’s something different.”
That’s good, I thought. Now that he has the Word of God in his hands, the Holy Spirit can lead him.
Ali told us that he had read from the story of Creation to the story of the Flood in Genesis. He asked many questions about freedom of choice.
We suggested that he begin his study by reading the New Testament, but Ali disagreed. “Everything has a beginning,” he said. “That’s where I’m going to start in the Bible.”
After three hours of interesting conversation, it was time for us to leave the park. We asked Ali whether we could pray together.
“I don’t want to attract attention,” he said anxiously. “Tell me how you pray.”
“We can just close our eyes and talk to God quietly,” I said. “It will be very discreet.
When I had finished praying, I noticed that Ali’s eyes were filled with tears. “I’ve never heard anyone pray without a lot of repetition,” he said. “This was very personal.”
We told Ali that we can talk to God as a Father or a Friend about our fears, problems, and joys. We told him that we’d pray for him, and then we said goodbye.
I don’t know how our next meeting with Ali will go, but I’m not worried. After giving him a Bible of his own, answering his questions, and praying a simple prayer with him, I know the Holy Spirit will work in his heart.
Total Employment™ is an initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to recruit, train, and place “tentmakers”—self-supporting professionals who have a desire to share Jesus—in restricted access countries.
The church has an urgent need for tentmakers in the 10/40 Window, an area that stretches from northern Africa through the Middle East and Asia. This is home to two-thirds of the world’s population, most of the world’s least-reached countries and people groups, and the fewest Christians. If you think God may be calling you to this unique mission service, please visit TotalEmployment.org.
Tentmakers can work as entrepreneurs, computer technicians, public relations specialists, graphic designers, engineers, agriculturalists, international development workers, artists, teachers, and healthcare professionals, among other professions.