Hello family and partners in the gospel! It’s been far too long since my last newsletter. God has been doing so much and I will have to catch you up in subsequent correspondences as to keep this one a modest length. So let me dive in and catch you up on the more pertinent parts of these last several months.
This past April I was blessed with the opportunity to take a vision tour to the Middle East where we have finally broken ground on what I am confident will be an amazing new work of the Spirit, following the success of the work in south Asia. While we were there, we got to spend a good amount of time with one of the few evangelical churches in one of the few “Christian“ cities of the country. I put it this way because Christian is a label given to any non-Muslim faith, so Christianity there includes Catholicism, Orthodoxy, et cetera. These denominations are in fact against what the evangelical church is doing, even to the point of notifying secret police, nevertheless God is moving through them.
Just while we were there, a group of ours got to meet an imam living with his large family in the middle of the desert. That local church has been developing a relationship with him, and after six years our team was blessed to witness him accept an Arabic Bible from their translator who himself is a Muslim born believer. What a beautiful thing to witness, and what amazing things God could do through this man, a mosque leader, and this Bible. This is how it’s done. These people are extremely relational, their society functions as a close-knit community. This calling, as our beloved worker in North Africa says, is not a sprint it’s a marathon. Who knows if reaching just one man in six years could produce an Arabic Billy Graham. We need to be faithful to plant our seeds, trusting that others will water, and to allow God to bring the increase.
While that group was there in the desert visiting with the imam, the rest of us got to visit some sweet Iraqi refugee families. The first I visited was right across the street from the church. They lived very modestly with bare minimum furnishings. As is custom, the mother eager to feed us, bringing a large platter of dolma, which are stuffed grape leaves, as well as stuffed potatoes, onions and tomatoes. It had such a perfect sourness, supposedly a characteristic of the Iraqi style. Now her husband hosts a weekly Bible study out of their home, an amazing and encouraging thing to see in this part of the world. They had one child, at least with them, a daughter named Rose. She works at a stationary store, but prior to that worked for a baker who hardly paid her for days often lasting twelve hours. As non-citizens they are legally not able to work, putting them at the mercy of abusing employers. A book I read, Defying Isis, really put my visit with them into perspective. Isis came into Iraq in 2015 and either killed or drove out multitudes of Christians, which may very well have been part of this family’s story.
Now a ways north of this city there is a retreat center, where we had the opportunity to worship, pray and wait on the Lord in a beautiful garden. I chose a short little wall overlooking a small city a few miles below us, and near the one small road leading into it. As I sat there I saw a bus drive by with a few teenage girls at the window. They were wearing hijabs, head coverings, beginning their journey of concealment as a Muslim woman. I pictured this as a prison bus, likely taking them to the mosque in that town where the call to prayer was about to sound. When it sounded, this was my first time hearing it on our trip, and instantly a strange vision came to me. This town had many buildings with many windows, and all at once I saw black hooded figures, women in full burkas, jumping from every visible window as if to their deaths. It was an interesting thing to visualize, I didn’t know how to feel about it, at least not until we worshiped at the local church later that night. They opened worship with two small girls and a small boy, and I couldn’t make out anything other than “Yesu,” Jesus. These children were worshiping Jesus. But what really struck me, and brought the prior visions full circle, were the little girls. These little girls, in their context, could easily be those teenage girls beginning their life of bondage, ultimately being led to their deaths by a false, manipulative religion. But they’re not. They’re free. They are loved by, and love, the One who came to die for them; and it showed so beautifully in the way that they were loved by His body there in that church.
The Lord has been continuing to encourage me in this calling through scripture and conversations within the body. Several of us were taking Arabic lessons with a brother in the Tuesday night Arabic Bible study at church, and he made promising remarks about be sounding like a native of where I’m seeking to go. Our prophetic prayer last month was also quite encouraging, as I was envisioned preaching and teaching among a slew of other visions. This continues to align with the call I felt to teach in Mexico, and with the same couple’s words from last year. And praise God I have been receiving increasingly better remarks regarding the preaching portion of our internship. For a while I felt like Gideon, feeling like I needed more and more confirmation regarding this call, but through encouragement from the body and scripture I believe God has given me enough to act upon in faith. One passage that stands out to me is found in the amazing hall of faith of Hebrews chapter eleven:
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called [by God], obeyed by going to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land, as in a strange land, living in tents [as nomads] with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise. 10 For he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has foundations, [an eternal, heavenly city] whose architect and builder is God.HEBREWS 11:8-10 AMP
God has never once given me a specific location, but I cannot deny the burden He has put on my heart regarding the Muslim people. Along with the uprooting and the amazing circumstances which brought me to and kept me in this special body, I cannot help but see God’s hand in all of it. I will be going on an Israel trip with our church in April, where I pray God would open the scriptures to me like never before. In March there is also an intense overseas security training in North Carolina which our two couples moving this spring and more will be attending. I believe this training will be of utmost significance, and I would love to take it with a good portion of those I am praying to live with on the field. This trip/training would total about $1800, and the remaining payment for Israel is $700. I would love if you would join me in prayer for God to provide should He desire me to be there for this training. And if the Lord so leads you to provide a one-time or recurring monetary gift, there is a giving link button below! Thank you so much for reading and praying, if there is anything you’d would like to ask me, be it prayer or a question, fell free to reach out!
- God is moving in the Middle East!
- God is continuing to confirm His call on my life!
- Seven to eight moving to Middle East this year!
- That God would strengthen and embolden believers in Middle East
- God’s provision for the team moving to the Middle East
- God provision for that which He desires me to be a part of
- Continued growth in the Word and the wielding thereof