By a field worker in the Middle East
Through our online ministry, Fatima*, originally from North Africa but now living in a different Arab nation, told our online responders that she had started to follow Jesus. When Fatima was ready, our online personnel connected her to one of our workers on the ground. They began to meet weekly to study the Bible. Fatima struggled with many issues in her life – practical things such as her mother being very ill and losing her job. Their weekly meetings focused on a study in Matthew and Fatima had many questions that were both a delight and a challenge for Rachel* to work through with her. However, after four months of meeting regularly, Fatima started to become distant. She didn’t respond to Rachel’s messages and often cancelled their times together. Finally, after five months, all communication stopped.

Rachel was disappointed, but she continued to message Fatima often. She wanted Fatima to know that she still cared, that she still prayed for her and her sick mother, and that she missed their times together. Three months later, Fatima changed her WhatsApp icon to one displaying the Islamic statement of faith. This was very disheartening for Rachel, who began to think the worst. Was Fatima being pressured by her family? Had something happened to her? But Rachel continued to message Fatima from time to time, and she continued to pray. At the same time, she battled thoughts of resentment and feelings like ‘I’m always the one who is doing the chasing! This time I am going to wait for her to get in touch with me!
Two months later, quite unexpectedly, Fatima left a very long voice message on Rachel’s mobile, saying that although she had gone through a period of tremendous doubt, she was now back on track and very excited about being a believer in Christ. In the recording, Fatima expressed her gratitude to God for saving her and for the privilege of having a relationship with him. She also mentioned that Rachel had been one of the only people who had stayed in contact with her during her long months of trials.
Since reconnecting with Rachel, Fatima has joined a group of believers who have come from the same background and country as herself. Often, new believers from this background have poor reconciliation skills and lack an attitude of grace, forgiveness and serving one another. Part of Rachel’s challenge, as she walks with Fatima, is to help her embrace these new truths and integrate them into her new life. Fatima has continued to express appreciation that Rachel kept in touch throughout her doubting months. At the same time, Rachel has relearned a lesson on extending grace and forgiveness, even when she feels it’s not reciprocated.
Yes – walking with others is hard work!