For just a moment, put yourself in the place of IMB missionary Andrew Lee*.
Imagine you are on a video call with three men from the Middle East. You lean in toward the grainy screen to hear their collective stories of how they fled their war-torn country and finally made it to Europe in search of a better life. They each tell you of their friendship with a believer named Abraham* who had also been a refugee out of the same area in the Middle East many years before. Abraham had a deep love for these three friends. He prayed for them for many years and shared the gospel with them when he could.
Envision yourself listening intently as the men tell you about their unease when they read the Muslim holy book. To them, the words seem to promote hate, spiritual slavery and war. The more they study, the more they see a god who is portrayed as distant, cold and indifferent to people and their pain.
They share with you that through friendship with Abraham and other believers, they experienced the love of Jesus and heard the good news. The men were fascinated by the Bible where they read about the true God who desires a personal relationship with people. Coming from a works-based religion with fear they would lose their salvation with any misstep, the men were shocked and overwhelmed with a sense of peace when they heard the truth from John 10:27-28 for the first time: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Jesus is the one who gives eternal life, and you cannot lose your salvation! Imagine hearing that truth for the very first time.
While the men have a growing interest in the Jesus of the Bible, two of them have not yet accepted Jesus. They know exactly what it would mean: rejection by friends and family and possible persecution.
As the hour-long video conversation continues, you share the gospel once more with the two men and patiently answer their pressing questions. “Why did Jesus have to die?” “How can God have a Son?” “What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?”
Near the end of the conversation, you say to them: “What prevents you from receiving Jesus as your Savior right now?”
A deafening silence settles over the call. No one will look directly at the computer’s camera. You pray quietly in your head, begging God to soften their hearts. One man covers his face with his hands. Another continues to look down at the table.
Finally, one of them answers: “I’m not ready.”
The other man quickly says the same thing. Your heart sinks and you inhale a shaky breath, but before you can utter the first word of your response, one of the men speaks suddenly.
“Actually, I am ready.”
You exhale a silent praise for the Spirit’s work in this man’s heart.
Then the other man also speaks up and says he is ready! You can hardly stop smiling as you close your eyes and lead the men in prayer at the end of the call.
Praise the Lord for Abraham, Andrew and the believers who faithfully shared the gospel with Hadi* and Abu* who are now brothers in Christ. They are studying the Bible and growing in their faith.
You can join the story by praying for protection for those who are new in their faith and praying for the missionaries like Andrew who are at work right now building relationships and sharing the gospel. Their efforts to provide Bibles to individuals just like the men in this story who are hungry for God’s Word are supported by the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Elisabeth Cutrer is a contributing writer for the IMB.