Every Sunday, we end our worship gatherings with the charge to “go be the church.” In some places of the world, the Church is not safe or free under government law to gather as we do in America, and those who publicly seek or claim Christianity face great persecution. It begs us to consider, then, what it means to actually go and be the church especially when the gathered body of Believers can’t look like what we know in America.
This is the case for our partner working in a Muslim context in North Africa, where those seeking Jesus often face family betrayal and even death. Still, Christ’s invitation to follow Him, and His commands to proclaim His good news and to love God and man in the whole Earth, remain. Praise God that He shows His people how to do this in every culture and context! And praise God that His gospel goes forth even where there is religious oppression.
Our hope in sharing this update is that you would pray for the people and the Church in North Africa, celebrate the work of the gospel, and consider how God is inviting you to join in His global mission.
–Tom Stephens, Outreach Pastor
Testimony from North Africa:
About three years ago, I met a local girl. She had newly professed her faith in Jesus and been baptized. When I met her, she was hungry to read the Word. She often invited me to come stay at her house, and every time I went she wanted to read the Bible together.
Over time, she moved away and we lost touch. One year went by. One day, this girl was on my heart. I reached out to her not knowing where she was. Then, I discovered she had recently moved back to the city I lived in. When I saw her, I knew she was at a crossroads. She had gone back into some old habits when she moved away, and when we met again, I knew she was trying to decide what path she wanted to go on.
Then she began to have dreams in the night. She would dream things like she was meant to be a shining light in the middle of darkness.
My roommate met her around that time and gave this girl a devotional book. She began to get back in the Word again and wanted to read.
My roommate and I began to have this girl over once a week. We would eat a meal together, worship, and study the Bible together in our home. That is what it looks like for the church to safely gather in this nation.
My friend met with us for about 4 months. Then one day we got a text from her out of the blue. She said she was going away and needed space to decide what path she wanted to go on.
During that time, my team and I were beginning a 40 day fast. During the fast, my roommate and I prayed for this girl every day. I didn’t know when or if I would see her again.
The day the fast ended, I had a text message that she was at my front door. It was a miracle.
I realized something was wrong when she arrived. She showed us bruises on her from something bad that had happened to her. My roommate and I invited her in but she wasn’t ready to talk just yet.
One week later, she asked if she could stay the week with us. We said yes. Then she had to go on a weeklong trip away, but when she returned, she asked if she could stay with my roommate and I for a while. We prayed about it and said yes.
We took in the local sister for three months. She was such a great guest. We fellowshipped, cried together, prayed together, walked through forgiveness together. It was a messy time. During this time, I realized that there is life in relationships and life in the mess.
God began to heal my friend. She began to fall in love with Jesus again. One day I was taking a nap and I heard something loud. I RAN into the living room to see what was going on. I realized that my friend was worshipping Jesus at the top of her lungs. Her eyes were closed and she didn’t even notice I was in the room.
I found out during this time of her living with us that my friend was really trying to choose a path. She said when she recently left her old lifestyle and prayed where to go, she felt led to come to my house. This was around the time of the 40 day fast.
My friend has found another place to live for now, but we still see each other about twice a week. She is like a sister to me. We are continuing to read the Word together, and I see her growing in Jesus every day. I have known this girl for three years. I saw her healing happen just by being a friend to her. I realized that people are not projects, but Jesus loves them and is invested in their hearts. He LONGS to mend and heal broken hearts. He longs to set the captives free. I am beginning to see that right before my very own eyes in this nation.
A CBC Sent Worker