Families come to faith in Saudi Arabia

Bahraini man is gifted in making and playing local Arabic instruments. (Credit: Kathryn Berry)Greg Kernaghan

Greg Kernaghan, a writer for OM International, travelled through the Middle East in November 2013. He observed and listened to the hearts of Christian workers who have invested decades in understanding and loving their Arab neighbours. Greg writes this collection of stories from the perspective of the OM workers in the Middle East, in their own words, fastidiously avoiding using real names and places so that the story itself may be told widely.

We’re hearing of women and whole families coming to Christ, which is significant. Normally we would know of individual men but, as the culture places such importance on the family unit, this is a major step forward.

One girl is writing hymns and posting them on the Internet. That was where she learnt of Christ and has “met” workers, although she has yet to meet other Christians face to face. Two of her sisters also believe in Christ. A Bahraini across the country is gifted in playing local Arabic instruments. He puts her hymns to music and posts them on YouTube.

Media makes a difference 

Another young girl came to Christ through media. When her parents found out, they were incensed and made attempts to marry her to a fanatical Muslim. People began to pray for her, and their prayers were answered when the wedding to this man was cancelled. The family’s emotional abuse ceased, and her sister, having seen her bear up under suffering, has come to Christ.

One brother, Yazid*, was introduced to Christ through visions and dreams. Bored, he was surfing the Internet at work when the Holy Spirit spoke clearly to him to read the Injil and learn about Christ. He downloaded it and began to read the Scriptures. Every time he returned to his desk, God told him to read more. At first it was like a dark cloud, as he began at Genesis, but he read through until the Gospels when the darkness lifted and he understood.

Later, he began to follow video Bible teaching online and called to ask for more information. The teacher walked him through the Gospel and led him to Christ, then put him in touch with us and we began to meet together. He was soon baptised but still had doubts about his sins being forgiven. In a vision, God told him he was utterly forgiven. Since then, he has been telling friends, family and colleagues about his faith, knowing well the possible cost. His family put his bags on the street and locked the door, but a few days later relented. One daughter has been reading the Gospels.

Sister's testimony 

Women have freedom to go shopping and socialise with women. I was able to meet periodically, usually in my home, with one who had become a believer. Two of Fadila’s* sisters and one brother were in the US and came to Christ through the love and ministry of an American. One sister sent her an email explaining the gospel and her own testimony; when Fadila read it, she immediately believed. She had had a dream the previous night about her sister, but didn’t know that she was a believer. She was so amazed at this coincidence that she visited her sister in the US, and her husband came along because he wanted to understand what was going on. He met with the man who had discipled the family and was satisfied that it was OK for his wife and the others to continue in their faith. They returned to Saudi Arabia and she is quite open in sharing her faith.

One of her friends had a dream, in which she saw a dark bird in a cage. Then she saw a white bird, flying free. She told her believing friend, hoping for an explanation. Her friend said, “This is God speaking to you. You are that dark bird in a cage, but He wants you to become the white bird flying freely by believing in Jesus.” This believer depends entirely on the Internet for fellowship, as she lives nowhere near other believers. She and her siblings and their spiritual father in the US meet regularly online, even celebrating Christmas in this way. She prays that she could meet face to face with another woman believer. There might be someone nearby, but mistrust or fear can prevent them from meeting.

Steps of faith

An older man, Nazim*, is a large man. Going up a stairwell, all of a sudden he had a vision and literally fell down. He saw a light and angels that proclaimed, “Behold, the King is with you.” The message kept repeating. He knew this King was Jesus – Saudis have a sense of who Christ is. The man immediately began to proclaim the gospel even though he knew almost nothing. The police stopped him because, in his zeal, he had put a cross on his car. He told the police about Christ…but took down the cross. Likely they didn’t know what to do with him!

A friend connected us with a Saudi woman in the US who was a secret believer and could not likely ever return to Saudi Arabia. One of her sisters in Saudi asked another sister to get her an Arabic Bible on a trip to London, which she did. Upon receiving and reading Scripture, she became a believer. Her husband did not forbid her but asked her to be careful and private about her faith. She had thus far been barren – a huge shame – but, immediately after she trusted in Christ she became pregnant and bore twin sons – a double blessing so rare that this was understood by her family and community as clear evidence that God had blessed her step of faith in Jesus. She prays openly for her sister and others to know the Lord.

Faith in action

A young Saudi had a dream about Jesus, began to read Scripture and trusted Christ. He then married, but his wife did not accept his faith. They later had a child who became very ill. The husband told his wife that they were going to pray to Jesus and that only He could heal the child. The child was then healed, and the wife, and also her mother, came to faith.

Peace with God

As two workers walked past a sidewalk café in Europe, five Arabs invited them to join them. God prompted one of the workers, a Saudi – whose dialect was immediately recognisable and thus a surprise to the five men – to share his testimony. The hearers asked, “Aren’t you afraid of confessing this because of the consequences in your country?” He replied, “No, because I am at peace with God and know where I will spend eternity.” As he continued to speak one of the listeners, also a Saudi, began to weep. Their time ended with the workers praying for the five men.

The next day, they met one of the Saudi men who said, “As you spoke yesterday, I felt real peace within me for the first time.” He asked for materials to share with the other four friends.

While the workers were in conversation on the street with another Arab, an Iranian woman approached them – shocking it itself – and said, “You must listen to this man; he speaks truth. I am an Iranian and was not only a Muslim but also part of a terrorist family. Jesus appeared to me in a dream and changed my life. Do not miss this!” This caused the man to begin thinking and questioning deeply; not long after he came to Christ.

Fear is a huge factor to be overcome for Arabs, whether in trusting the gospel or in sharing it among their peers. This can be accomplished for both witness and listener through prayer.

This is just one article in a series that explores what God is doing in the Middle East. Click here for more articles in this series.

*Name changed

OM’s role in the Church is to mobilise people to share the knowledge of Jesus and His love with every generation in every nation. OM pioneers and leads initiatives to redeem lives, rebuild communities and restore hope in over 110 countries.

Gallery

International :: “My biggest struggle in missions was being away from home, when one of my friends passed away back home. I started to question God why it had to happen while I was gone. He challenged me to find comfort in Him instead of family, friends back home, etc.” - Angie from Paraguay, on Logos Hope
Guatemala :: “Psalm 8:4 says, ‘What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?’ When I invited Jesus into my heart, He gave me value, something I never had before. I’m forever thankful for the blood He shed for me and the love He shows me every day.” - Anabella from Guatemala, with OM Guatemala
International :: “I am truly so touched and humbled observing God’s hand in the communities, the team, and in my personal relationship with Him. It is an absolute privilege serving a God who pursues His children and all this within free will and choice.” - Adeleigh, Africa Trek participant
Albania :: “Since being in missions, I am so much more aware of how God is active and working mightily through His people throughout the world—from those who sit on bamboo floors for a Bible study in a building on stilts in the Philippines, to the churches that meet under trees in Africa, to the modern Singaporean churches with all the technology. Being in missions with OM has shown me the need for all people to be involved with Kingdom work—regardless of who you are or where you come from. God has given all of us talents and specific roles to play in His master plan of bringing people back to Him!” - Abby from US, Africa Trek leader
Zambia :: “In the village, God’s been teaching me a lot about community. I’ve learnt how to serve. I came here as a missionary and to be a leader, but then I learnt how to be a servant leader.” - Abbie, from Trinidad and Tobago, with OM Africa
International :: “The best is yet to come. No matter where you are now, don’t think that’s always how it’s going to be. Even if things in your life get worse, if you’re a Christian, heaven is waiting for you. There is always hope. I think that really is how I view songwriting, specifically. One thing that one of my teachers always said is, the best song you’re ever going to write is the next one. That’s how we should live our lives. This world is temporary and the best is yet to come.” - Abbey, OM Arts songwriter
Austria :: OM EAST: Children in a Roma village in Croatia say goodbye as they leave their children’s club, led by OM EAST partners.
Montenegro :: A time of contemplation and sharing during communion, at Mozaik church, in Bar, Montenegro

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