A university student in the Middle East who had received a New Testament from a native ministry’s church visited leaders to inform them that Jesus couldn’t possibly be God.
Hamza* also told them the New Testament had been altered over the centuries as he made many allegations about textual problems.
“We listened to his complaints with respect,” the ministry leader said. “We just listened to him and treated him respectfully, putting in a few thoughts when possible for him to consider.”
Refraining from treating faith as an argument to be won and refusing to become contentious seemed to take the edge off the visitor. When Hamza returned a few days later, he came with questions rather than accusations, the leader said.
“Then on Sunday, he came to our worship service and continued coming for a number of months,” he said. “He wasn’t opposed to anything he heard and even joined in singing hymns with us.”
Hamza’s friends at university heard he was attending church services and mocked him, but by then he was immune to their taunts; he had put his faith in Christ and responded to them by reading passages of the New Testament. He was unconcerned when they teased him for doing so.
One of the friends who mocked his Bible reading began attending worship services with him, the leader said.
“Some months later Hamza shared his journey into faith with us and, surprisingly, the friend who mocked him also had become a believer, so both of them went through the meaning of baptism and were baptized,” he said. “Yet Satan doesn’t stand by without causing more trouble – Hamza’s father threatened him, saying, ‘You return to your Muslim faith, or we will cast you out of our family.’”
His mother agreed with the threat, Hamza told the leader, who then prayed for him. Later visiting the student, he asked Hamza what he was going to do.
“He seemed so peaceful,” the leader said. “He very calmly said that he would show respect to his family, but that he couldn’t deny his faith in Jesus as they wanted. My heart was comforted, and I prayed for him, sharing some advice with him as he departed to go to his home again.”
Hamza later telephoned the leader, full of joy as he said that his mother had told him, “Okay, you can be a Christian, but don’t share it with any of our relatives just now.”
“His dad didn’t react at all and acted as if nothing had changed, so things were going well,” the leader said. “At his university he also shared his faith in Jesus, and now has a girlfriend who is nearly a believer, as he’s brought her to the church. We rejoice over these miracles happening here.”
Workers also faced opposition from Muslims as they extended aid to recent victims of natural disasters, the leader said.
“Those bound to Islam were sharing videos saying, ‘Be careful of the missionaries’ help – they show respect as they offer food to the hungry and help those in need with such tenderness, and seem rather intelligent, yet do be careful of them and keep your distance,’” he said.
Comments on social media praised the help the Christians were offering and questioned the warnings, the leader said.
“In other words, while they are wanting to put the church ministry down, they can only say words that bless us all, as we are lifting up the name of Jesus,” he said. “Soon after, we shared on social media many photos of what we did to help the victims, and we noticed how many people were thanking us and picking up New Testaments, saying, ‘We want to know your God,’ and some were sharing with us that they’ve decided to believe in our God.”
The ministry’s outreach throughout the country is bearing fruit. A few years ago a small group of new Christians began meeting in another city where the native ministry had begun proclaiming Christ, and now about 120 people from four countries attend worship services, with five to 10 visitors each Sunday.
As a result, the ministry is sending its first national to shepherd the church there, the leader said.
“It’s the first time we’ve anointed a pastor from our church and sent him to lead another congregation,” he said. “We have just prayed over him, anointing him to be the minister at the church, so they have moved there as a family.”
The ministry is training a leader to pastor a new church in another town. Please consider a donation today to help workers share Christ throughout the Middle East.
*Name changed for security reasons