One of our aims for 2016, through our While it is Day initiative, is to empower the global church to minister to Muslim refugees more effectively. ‘The Journey’ is a video-based course that takes people through the Old Testament to discover the truth about the coming Messiah, Jesus. It was designed for people of the Arab world, by believers from the Arab world. It is an amazing resource and we are privileged to partner with this ministry.
The following report comes from a group of believers in Germany who ran the course earlier this year. It is very encouraging, so please read and share…
In a rural area of Germany, The Journey was offered to an unusually large group of Arabic-speaking refugees. On the first evening, we hosted twenty men. They were mainly Syrian, though some were Iraqi. About half of the group was Kurdish and the other half was of Arabic background. Two of the twenty came from a Christian background, but the remaining eighteen were Muslim. On a superficial level they were all of the same culture, but the underlying diversity was a challenge for each of the participants.
The course was held in a large, private living room, led by a small team, while others assisted with food preparation, shuttle services from the surrounding villages, prayer, and hosting the meeting. Altogether, a team of six different nationalities representing six different churches was involved.
Just as it was designed to do, the course stirred up burning questions in the minds of those who attended: Does God hear my prayers? Is everything predestined, or am I free to make choices? Who is responsible for the evil in the world, and is there a way out of it? Does God care about us?
Together we shared thirteen evenings of modern, fast-paced video material with a moderator guiding us through the many questions, teachers explaining events and signs, people of various backgrounds testifying about their personal experiences with God. Street interviews with people from all over the Middle East and North Africa challenged thinking and personal beliefs. As we looked at the messages and signs of well–known prophets, more and more, God’s plan was revealed.
During the first few meetings, there was usually one person trying to compare the message to that of the Qur’an. However, The Journey is not designed to compare and argue, only to present and discuss. This approach helped a lot of people to ask more personal questions, to listen and dig deeper, and to go on a journey with an unknown destiny.
It was a challenging time for the team and the participants. Often we didn’t know whether our only translator – a Syrian pastor and himself a refugee – would make it on time, though he almost always did. Sometimes we spent all afternoon making sure everyone who wanted to come had a ride for the evening.
By the ninth week, about half of the group had dropped out for various reasons. But nine stayed – and it was very moving to see how the Holy Spirit revealed the Lord Jesus Christ to them, one after the other, as the One promised all along by all the prophets.
The first posed a very clear question about following Christ, and then, in front of the others, surrendered his life to Jesus. Then others took steps of faith, one by one. So far, three have been baptised and others will follow…
It is hard to describe how awestruck we still are about God’s work in people’s lives. We experienced countless miracles just to make it possible to run the course and keep it going. But nothing compares to the miracle of the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ in a person’s heart. His plans of salvation are perfect and beautiful! All honour to him!
The course is over now. We still meet every week to study the Word, to worship, to fellowship, and to share our lives. On Sundays many of these men join the international church, whose pastor is part of The Journey’s leading team. Different ones have suffered threats, have been cursed and rejected by family members, or by people who had joined the course but came to different conclusions. A few fearlessly testify of their faith and bring along new friends. We will have to start a new course very soon.
Please lift up this group of faithful believers, praising God for all that they have accomplished in him. Pray too for the refugees they have been sharing with and discipling. May those who have not yet professed faith soon make the wonderful decision to follow Christ. May each individual go on to be a fruitful and firm follower of Christ.