middle east and north africa union mission

Sunny and Salma met during the orientation for first-year students at a university in the Middle East.

Sunny, who is from Asia, is a “Waldensian Student”—a young Seventh-day Adventist living, studying, and serving at a secular university in the Adventist Church’s Middle East and North Africa Union Mission. Salma is a local student who grew up in a non-Christian family.

The two women shared the same major and lived in the same city neighborhood, and they quickly became friends. Salma soon learned that her new friend was an Adventist Christian. She had been taught to be wary of Christians, but Sunny seemed very kind and honest.

As their friendship grew, Salma accepted an invitation to attend a Friday evening meeting in Sunny’s home. Salma met other young Adventists at the meeting, and she liked the friendly conversation. Soon she began to enjoy singing hymns and praying with the group every Friday evening.

Near the end of the first school year, Sunny invited Salma to visit an Adventist church where 95 percent of the members were international students. Salma accepted, but she faced harsh criticism from her family and friends for doing so.

“What did you do there?” one asked.

“Does this mean you’ve become a Christian?” another demanded.

Family members warned that they all would be cursed if she became a Christian.

“It was a hard experience for me, and it made me worry,” Salma said. But she didn’t stop going to church. She even joined the youth choir and participated in health seminars. Her Adventist friends prayed for her.

One Friday evening, the group watched a video about Jesus’ life, and Sunny noticed that Salma’s attitude began to soften. To Sunny’s amazement, Salma asked to study the book of Acts.

“I was surprised because Salma hadn’t been interested in Bible studies for about a year,” Sunny said.

Salma studied the Bible weekly with Sunny, but she had no desire to be baptized. She was worried that her family would be cursed if she became a Christian.

One Sabbath at a women’s ministries retreat, Salma participated in an activity where each woman had to select a heart-shaped card and meditate on the Bible verse written inside. She prayerfully chose a card and opened it. Inside, she read, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and your household will be saved” (Acts 16:31, MEV).

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Salma immediately knew God had answered her prayer. She didn’t need to worry about a curse falling on her family. She stood up and announced with a trembling voice that she wanted to accept Jesus as her Savior and be baptized!

It’s stories like Salma’s that inspire Sunny to continue serving as a “Waldensian Student.”

“After I finish my studies, I plan to stay in the Middle East to develop lifelong friendships with people like Salma,” Sunny said. “That’s about the only way we can touch the hearts of many people who don’t know Jesus in this region. Please pray that Salma will grow spiritually and that God will send more people like her to me.”

Sunny participates in the “Waldensian Student” initiative, a frontline mission approach in which Seventh-day Adventist students live, study, and serve in secular universities in specific countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Following Christ’s example of outreach, they mingle with people,  win their confidence, minister to their needs, and as opportunities arise, bid them to follow Jesus.

For information on how to become a “Waldensian Student,” contact Questions@adventistmission.org.

To sponsor their unique ministry, visit Global-Mission.org/giving and select the “Waldensian Student” program.

Chanmin Chun
is the communication coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Union Mission.