Despite the possibility of persecution, a new believer in the Arabian Peninsula experiences peace and joy in the hope he found in Christ.
“The worst thing I can do to my family is to shame them by becoming a follower of Jesus,” explained David*, a young man in the Arabian Peninsula (AP) seeking Christ. Even though David had questions that the Qur’an was not answering, he continued going to the mosque and did everything he had been taught all his life to do, but out of obligation to his family and community, not out of personal conviction.
The questions inside David demanded answers, so he turned to the internet for help. In forums and chat rooms, David asked questions about Islam and Christianity, and people from around the world replied. Eventually, he met face-to-face with a Jesus follower and could ask every question he had kept bottled up inside. “Through that journey, through being introduced to the Bible, David became a believer,” said Jesse*, a Jesus follower residing in the AP.
As he learnt more about the Bible and grew in his faith, David made excuses to avoid going to the mosque for prayer. When it was unavoidable, he spent the time praying for those around him, that they might one day know Jesus as he did.
One day, a family member flipped David’s phone open and discovered a message about his faith in Christ. With persecution against new believers common, David was unsure of the repercussions but resolved to stand by his decision.
When Jesse asked how he could pray for David, David requested prayer for his family, that they would see the truth of the Bible, and for David to be at peace and rest with God. “He’s found peace. And he’s found joy, even in the midst of a situation where he’s afraid,” described Jesse. “He realises that Jesus is that pearl of great value. …The world that he lives in is so difficult. And that’s the reality of everyday life for believers throughout the Arabian Peninsula.”
“This is why we pray because only God can save his family; only God can intervene in that situation. And so we ask Him to do what only He can do,” expressed Jesse.
‘God’s not gonna fail’
Jesse and his family are living out their daily lives for Christ in the AP. “We live in a place that desperately needs change. I can’t do it. I can share, I can love people, but I can’t change a single person’s heart—only God can,” Jesse explained. “And so, Plan A is that we pray, and we ask Him to do what only He can do. I tell people if Plan A doesn’t work, there is no Plan B because God’s not gonna fail.”
Being from a different country in the tight-knit culture is not without its challenges. As a foreigner, relationships “take sitting down and listening. It takes spending time with people and loving them and valuing them,” said Jesse. Believers like David have an advantage in sharing the good news as they already know the culture, language and have relationships in the community.
Jesse’s heart is to pray for the people of the AP and walk alongside new believers, encouraging and helping them listen to the voice of God.
God flipped a switch
“I wasn’t looking for God, but God was looking for me,” Jesse* said, recalling how he became a Jesus follower. Having grown up in a Christian family, Jesse knew who God was but chose to neglect that relationship and pursue a career as a musician instead, which surrounded him with “a sea of problems.” Yet God met Jesse where he was, and “it was like the Lord just flipped a switch in me. It was something so dramatic that my friends that were around me didn’t even recognise who I was,” remembered Jesse. “I lost many of those friends. I just knew for the longest time I wasn’t able to change who I was, but I had found something so valuable, and Jesus completely changed everything about my life.”
Jesse began using his musical skills in the church and looking for opportunities to serve more, though he didn’t know what that could look like. “To be honest with you, I thought, because of my crazy past, that I was really kind of disqualified from [ministry],” he explained. Yet when the youth pastor asked for volunteers to help with the youth group, Jesse stepped forward, unsure of how God would use him but willing to try.
When a missions worker spoke in his church one Sunday, Jesse said: “It could not have been any more directed at me. I knew it.” Jesse wrestled with God after the service and the implications of the urge. Could he move his family overseas? Was that what he was supposed to do? So Jesse prepared—for what exactly, he wasn’t sure—but he stayed involved with the youth group, attended Bible college, received mentoring and began taking students on short-term trips to share Christ’s love with others. “I didn’t really feel equipped for doing some of these things; I could only share with them the passions that I had,” Jesse remembered.
For over ten years, Jesse served the Lord in various capacities before moving with his family to the Arabian Peninsula, where they currently reach out to their Muslim neighbours and pray for the nations.
Please pray for the three W’s: workers, wonders and worship. Pray for more Arabic-speaking Jesus followers to move to the AP to answer questions and walk alongside local believers. Pray for wonders, that God will send dreams, visions and miracles to bring people to Him. Pray for worship, that believers will feel free to worship Christ and that local expressions of worship will be developed.