Thank you in advance for your time as you read through this latest 5 minute ministry update! I hope that your summer has been wonderful!
“That just doesn’t happen…”
I’ll be honest—my expectations this year for our annual youth missions trip to eastern Colorado were low. Let’s just say last year was challenging. Earlier this spring, however, the Holy Spirit was laying it on Taylor and I’s hearts to return once again.
The week ended up being exceptional. The Lord really moved in an awesome way. Our students helped in a couple of local VBS events and we also spent time with East African refugees. I was so encouraged to see our students sharing the message of Jesus at the VBS events. The Lord used them, and several of the children decided to follow Jesus. It was awesome—the Lord truly is good! The moment that touched my heart the most, though, was in our time with the refugees.
Our outreach among the refugees in this small community has been wearisome at times. It’s hard to invest weeks of time and energy and then often see no immediate fruit. I have to remember “immediate” is not always the way the Lord works. For 5 years I have been regularly (2-4 times per year) venturing into this Muslim community, building relationships, spending time, and praying that the Lord would bring these people into His Kingdom. This year, for the first time, I saw God start something in the heart of a young boy that could grow into Kingdom fruit.
As we have done for the past 4 summers, we spent every evening of our week-long trip with the refugees. We bring soccer balls, basketballs, beads, and jump ropes and then just spent time together. This part of the week had been good, but ultimately spiritually uneventful. On Wednesday night, I was chatting with a few 7-8 year old boys after playing a pickup game of backyard soccer. After asking them a number of get-to-know-you questions about their families and things they like to do, they came right out and said, “Do you believe in Allah?” I replied, “Well I believe in God…” To which they replied, “Are you a Muslim?” I said, “No, I’m a Christian.” This took them by surprise. I wasn’t expecting their next question though, “Do you have a dog?” they asked. I was confused by their question, but I answered honestly, “No.” “Do your parents have dog?” they inquired (thinking I still lived with them, I suppose). “Yes,” I said. Immediately they jumped back from our conversation about a foot and a half, and exclaimed “don’t touch us!” I was taken off guard. In all my time with Muslims, I had never known that they considered dogs unclean.
As I reflected on my conversation with the boys later that evening, my heart began to break. I was suddenly overwhelmed with just how difficult it really is to share the message of Jesus with Muslim people. I was heartbroken that something as simple as having a pet dog could prevent someone from hearing the message of Jesus. I continued processing during our team debrief that night, I was moved to desperation. I had a sudden, gut-wrenching realization that my strategies of evangelism mean nothing; it would take Jesus doing a miracle. So we prayed, “…Lord we don’t know what to do. Please do a miracle. Open the heart of one of these wonderful people to come and ask us about Jesus…”
The next evening was our last evening hanging out with the refugees. Our time was good, but from my perspective, uneventful. That night in our debrief conversation we chatted about it. I asked if anyone had had any spiritual conversations. No one responded with a yes. I was a little sad that the Lord hadn’t answered our prayer. As we were about to wrap up though, the pastor whose family was hosting us, walked in and said, “oh, by the way I wanted to let you know that tonight I had a young Muslim boy walk up to me and ask if I would tell him about Jesus. So I did.” My jaw dropped! The Lord had answered our prayer, and my heart was filled with hope! Jesus had done something that simply never happens!
Upcoming Trips and Ministry Opportunities
My next international trip will likely happen in January. This fall I will be leading a 3 day outdoor discipleship experience for a group of 25 college students. I will also be continuing with year 2 of my itinerant ministry training (called Firebrand) through Forge. Taylor and I will continue to lead the youth group at our local church as well.
Thanks for your partnership in the gospel!
Nathan and Taylor