UFM mission partner, H, serves in evangelism in the Middle East. We asked her about her experiences of reaching out to Muslims in a culture very different to her own.
Tell us a little about what you do in this region of the Middle East.
I want to reach Muslims with the gospel, but I can’t share openly or in public. Instead I seek to build relationships with those around me. I am studying English and Arabic, and I use my English skills to come alongside Muslims to teach them the language. This gives me opportunities to share the truth.
How does God create opportunities for you to share the gospel?
I try to engage people in talking about everyday things like marriage, family, health and finances. As they share with me, I can bring the Bible and the Koran into these conversations, creating a natural way to talk about the differences between Christianity and Islam.
I engage people by talking about everyday things like marriage, family, health and finances.
What are some of the main cultural differences between your home country and your host country in the Middle East?
Life for a single woman in an Islamic culture is very different. Married women don’t go out alone, but are always accompanied by their husband or children. I have lost count of the number of times that I have been proposed to by men seeking a second wife! I have to be careful and not talk to men openly in public. I use public transport and walk to visit friends’ houses, but it’s not always safe and I have been threatened by men and boys.
When you are in the Middle East, how do you draw strength from the Lord?
I often feel like I am in the middle of a spiritual battle. I am a morning person, I get up early to have a long time to pray and talk to God. This clashes with the first call to prayer for Muslims, broadcast from the mosques. It is very loud! I still find this a struggle after 10 years of living here, but it keeps me seeking God’s presence.
How have you seen God working in this region in the Middle East?
I can’t say how many people I have seen saved. Many people come to our church but few have real faith.
People are so joyful when they first accept Jesus as their Saviour, but many convert back to their original religion due to persecution or social reasons. However, I still have hope. It’s not about numbers; God is working in a few people who are very faithful. Persecution makes Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) ‘grow up’ spiritually and identifies true believers who know that they may have to give up everything for their faith.
Persecution identifies true believers who know that they may have to give up everything for their faith.
Tell us about some of those people who are close to your heart.
I have a friend who is scared that people might know that he has converted to Christianity. At work, colleagues ask him why he doesn’t pray five times a day, why he doesn’t fast during Ramadan and why he no longer goes to the mosque. He is fearful for his life.
Colleagues ask why he doesn’t pray five times a day and why he no longer goes to the mosque: he is fearful for his life.
I met another MBB in church. When he was in university, someone shared the gospel with him. He was really angry and became violent, throwing chairs, declaring that it was dishonouring the name of God to say that Jesus is his son. But 10 years later, he became a Christian. His wife left him and took their children, so he is alone but is keeping the faith.
What advice would you give to other women who are considering going on mission to the Middle East?
We really need workers to reach Muslims in the Middle East. But it’s tough. You must not be disappointed when you don’t see fruit; it is a very difficult place to see true conversions. I keep in mind that we don’t know who will come to the Lord in the future as a result of what we share now. I am sure that God is working, so I share the gospel and leave the rest up to him, knowing that he will make all things good, for his glory, in the end.
I am sure that God is working, so I share the gospel and leave the rest up to him.