When you're working in God's field, it's only natural to measure success by the handful of responses you've received from those who are ready to follow Jesus completely. But look at the developing fruit; even the earliest steps a person takes towards God is evidence there is far more to harvest, and His power is very much at work. He is faithful to do His part, while He calls us to work alongside His growing process--to be present in prayer, present in witness, present to harvest the ripened fruit.
“If you want to pray, do it in silence. Anyway, it’s between you and God. I am not praying with you!” Steven felt a sword penetrate his heart at Ahmed’s words. They had become friends, such good friends. Steven felt the friendship was finally strong enough to introduce Jesus, and for months he’d been trying to share. But Ahmed’s reaction was increasingly negative, more closed than even at the beginning. Steven wondered if he would’ve understood Ahmed's spiritual openness better if he’d shared Jesus from the beginning. Now a friendship was involved. Would it survive the delicate work of introducing a spiritual foundation to their relationship? Ahmed was not ready.
Mery is five years old and in a first-grade classroom with many Muslims. She and her parents pray for them every day. She is shy, but she knows she is there for Jesus. At the end of one day she was putting her books in her backpack when she felt someone touching her on her shoulder. Lulu, one of her classmates, had something to say. “When we will be in second grade I want to become a Christian.” Mery could not hide her smile. She knew God was answering her family’s prayers. That afternoon she went home to prepare a gift for Lulu to show her friendship, and she is inviting Lulu to her birthday party. Their families will be able to meet!
One Sabbath morning, as Jon told the taxi driver where he wanted to go, the driver asked why he was going to church on Saturday. Jon explained that the Sabbath was important from the Creation of the world. He even shared Jesus’ story. He told how the Injil tells us to worship God on the seventh day. The conversation kept going on and on all the way to the church. As Jon handed the driver his fee, the driver pleaded, “Could you please get me an Injil in my own language? I want to know more.”
Providentially Jon had just completed a training where they had talked about how God is always at work around us. We’re simply asked to join Him! In that moment Jon knew--God was working in the life of the taxi driver. Reverently, as if in the presence of God, Jon responded, “Of course I will find a complete Bible for you. In your language too!” They exchanged mobile numbers and a few days later they met once again. The taxi driver has his own Bible now. Jon is sharing the story of Jesus with him once a week over WhatsApp. The fruit is ripening, and a laborer is standing by to share in the experience.
It was Ramadan. Elizabeth and Martin, her husband, had decided to spend more time in prayer. That morning hers had been simple but desperate: “Lord, we’ve been three years trying to share Jesus in so many different ways, but none of them seem interested.” She knew the miracles that had brought them to work in the region. “Confirm our call. Give us a family.” In that moment, God answered with a clear thought, “Soon.” Elizabeth had heard God’s voice many times in the past; she knew He was speaking. “Thank you, God."
That afternoon Abdullah called Martin. They had met once before and exchanged mobile numbers, but almost a year had passed. Now Abdullah was inviting Martin and his family to have dinner with the Abdullah family the next day. Martin and Elizabeth decided to share Jesus from the very first of their relationship. They also had a small Arabic Bible with them, hoping they would be able to share it with Abdullah. The opportunity came when Abdullah shared the financial problem they were facing; his wife needed a job. Martin shared frankly of experiences where God had provided for them in difficult moments of their life. “I know Jesus had the power to give a job to your wife. Would you allow me to pray for you in His name?” Abdullah and his wife accepted. A few days later, his wife was offered a job. Together they began Bible studies with Martin and Elizabeth. They are growing in the knowledge of Jesus. They are ready to learn.
5 PASSED BY
Sara was reading in a coffee shop, enjoying the personal time when two women sat down in the table very close by. One was wearing a full abaya, the other was not even scarved. Their conversation turned to Islam. They were tired of it. “God is so distant!” the one in the abaya declared. “I’m tired of praying, repeating empty words, without feeling God is listening. I stopped praying like that. I talk to God like a father now. I like it.” The other woman responded, “I don’t cover anymore. Why should I cover to be accepted by God. What kind of God is that? I would like to feel God still loves me.” The conversation went on for three hours. Sara listened—and pretended to read—for three hours too. “You know, Sara, where they can find the answers they are looking for. Go and talk to them,” God said to Sara. But she was shy, uncertain, fearful. The fruit was ready to pick—so ready. But Sara was not ready to pick it. “Please God,” she has prayed many times since, “give me another chance to join Your work.” --SG & EG