For the past ten days Lisa and I (and another leadership couple from Central) have had the privilege of spending time with a number of our families who have relocated to North Africa. We visited these families in two different countries. These are folks from Central who have moved to this part of the world with the intention of learning to love and bless and serve the Muslim people of North Africa. They are committed to learning the culture, the predominant religion (Islam), and even the language. They are raising their kids to speak and read both English and Arabic (we’ve even had our first little Centralite born on the African continent! Yeah to little baby Allen!). The purpose of our visit was to encourage and bless these families. I am fairly confident, as it usually is, it was us who received the greatest blessing.
As a church, we have prayerfully determined that God has called us to go with the love of Jesus to a place where most Christians dare not go. North Africa is far and away a predominantly Muslim region where someone can easily live their entire life without ever having a chance to hear the gospel. This simply isn’t acceptable to our dear folks there. While we in America have acquired the habit of changing churches whenever we find ourselves the least bit disgruntled with our church, these folks will die without ever hearing the name of Jesus proclaimed even once! This is something our people are determined to change. With the wisdom of Solomon, they are discovering ways of influencing a culture that for centuries has been neglected by those who know the gospel. The people of this region are not unreachable, they are just unreached!
There are two moments I want to tell you about that were especially moving to us. The first took place in a town in the Nile Delta. I was told before arriving there that people who visited from our church were the first people in generations to visit this town. I wasn’t certain as to how to take this, as it seemed a bit unlikely to me. Yet when we were there, we were taken to a café for lunch and there, on the wall, were several pictures of women from our church!!! The owner of the café spoke affectionately of them, as well as did our Muslim host and hostess, who knew these women by name. Their visit, without a doubt, left a deep impression on them. Apparently no one from the West has bothered to visit them, except people from Central. Afterwards, as we walked through the town, we experienced something I have never, ever, experienced before anywhere in the world-anywhere! Hundreds of people kept waving at us and welcoming us. Everywhere we went we were waved to and greeted kindly. I have never been smiled at more in my entire life. These folks are anything but hostile—they are extremely hospitable!
The second significant moment took place in another country in a coffee shop late one evening. There, we sat with one of the men from our church who has relocated there, and two locals from this country. What moved us deeply was the way in which one of these locals, a Muslim man who also happened to be a professional accountant, spoke so graciously about this man from our church who has moved there. He told us of how deeply he loved this man (our guy), and of what a difference he had made in helping him understand both the values of our country, and, more importantly, the values of our Lord. We were mesmerized and overjoyed to discover it was no secret to this man that this guy from our church was a Christian. He told us that he was asking many deep questions regarding faith since meeting our guy. Wow!
Why am I telling you all of this? Simply to let you know that our church is making a difference in one of the most unreached places on the planet! We have asked God to send us somewhere where he needs “special forces” and he is doing it. God is raising up workers and you need to be extremely proud of our families who have moved there. You need to understand that your financial support is paying off huge dividends. You need to realize that the name of Christ is being proclaimed and that people’s lives are being impacted. For all of this you need to rejoice!
Lastly, and most importantly, you need to go over there and experience this for yourself! I want to challenge you to sign up for a short term Global Connections Trip. Do this! It will change your life and it will change your perspective! You will most likely never be the same again. You will surely come to understand why so many people are committing the rest of their lives to serving Jesus in this part of the world. You can check out the details HERE.
Who knows, you might even hear God whisper something to you about your future.
Wouldn’t that be cool?