A worker is praying, kneeling next to an Arabic Bible, the language spoken in the area he serves in. Photo by Johanna Bird.

A Journey of Faith

Gordon and Julie have seen people journey from an initial interest in the gospel to dedicating their lives to God. Sometimes this journey takes many years to complete.

It is always exciting when a new person meets Christ and chooses to follow Him, but in most cases the journey to becoming a Jesus follower is a long process. Gordon* and his wife Julie* are long-term workers in Central North Africa who have been privileged to see people journey from an initial interest in what they believe to dedicating their lives to God.

In 2003 they moved from the capital to a least-reached city further south with a desire to be fully involved in church planting. They quickly became involved in outreach, as Gordon explained, “One of the first things we did was to invest time in prayer walking. We found a map of the big city and surrounding towns and once a week we would pick a place within the region and would spend time praying over the chosen place for the week.

“Our dream was to see first-fruit believers coming from these places becoming a new church in our city. For this to happen we engaged in sharing the gospel with people and discipling anyone the Lord brought our way.”

One of the people the couple met on their walks was Emir*, a practising Sunni Muslim who owned a business where he sold land, houses, apartments and places for rent. He had lived his entire life in the countryside surrounding the city.

Gordon recalled, “Emir had a real interest in the topics of Heaven and eternal life. We gave him a Bible and pointed out scriptures he could read about these topics of interest, especially scriptures about Jesus' life. In those days, God brought many believers to his office who shared with him about Jesus and answered whatever questions he had.”

After three years of meeting and sharing with Emir, he accepted the Lord in his life, becoming the first fruit believer from his area.

“He renounced all folk Islam practices, magic involvement and spiritual pacts he did in his previous life,” Gordon said. “He was baptised and, together with three other believers, became part of a Bible study group we formed, later becoming the beginning of the church here.”

Facing opposition

Soon after giving his life to Christ, Emir’s family found out he had become a believer in Jesus. This led to him being rejected and dishonoured by his family. Emir was expelled from his home and the only option for him was to live in his office, where he worked during the day and slept during the night.

“For several months he lived this way, and Julie and other ladies would bring his clothes home to wash, cook some food and did their best to provide for his needs,” Gordon said. “The good thing of this experience was that his office became a public meeting point between believers and non-believers, opening many opportunities for witnessing — and a secret place for Emir to read scriptures and pray.”

Slowly, over time, Emir and his family members began reconciling. They came to accept the fact that he was a believer in Jesus, and when his parents and grandmother passed away, they left him with half of the family land, proprieties and houses as the male son; the other half being divided between his three sisters — a division made according to the Islamic law.

Throughout this period, Emir continued to attend church and study his Bible with a small group of single, male believers. The men had reached the age where they wanted to get married and start their own families, and this was a challenge for the young church.

“There were very few believing women in our country at that time, and they were scattered throughout the country, so we felt compelled to pray with our brothers for these needs,” Gordon said. “Emir said the Lord was giving him assurance that by next summer, he would be married — and he was! The Lord brought a believing wife to him from the capital city.”

Completing the circle

Emir and his wife decided to move to the capital city, as his wife did not adjust to life in the countryside. He sold his business and the house he had built, started a new life and joined a local church in the capital. The move allowed him to do theological studies online, and the Lord opened the door for him to travel to different countries around the world.

One of those trips took him to a mission conference in Thailand, where he was surprised to see Gordon again. “He told me that since he had last seen me, he went to Morocco to visit a group of believers,” Gordon said. “He said there he had an incredible experience, being baptised with the Holy Spirit and the prophetic word and ministry. He said the experience changed his life.

“We went out separate ways at the end of the conference, but at the end of last year, the International Church in our city promoted a men’s breakfast. To my surprise, Emir was there!

“He shared his testimony and mentioned what has stuck in his mind all these years from the time we used to meet together as a young church. He said, ‘I remember the times you shared about the prayer walking throughout our city and its surroundings and how we, the church of this city, were God’s answers to your prayers; the first fruits of believers from our towns. I will never forget this!

“'Today, I am doing the same. Every year I travel throughout the whole of the country; covering the country with prayer, sharing the gospel with the people, giving literature away, following up with those wanting to know more about Jesus. I feel a sense of urgency. People need to know Jesus.’”

*name changed

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