Church Planter – Undisclosed Country
Dr. Andrew is a church planter in the Middle East. He and his wife have been called to build up and equip the Arabic speaking church in the Muslim world by teaching them the Bible and mobilizing them to plant indigenous churches among difficult-to-reach Arabs.
Testimony of Conversion
My name is Dr. Andrew. I was born in a Muslim country and raised in a city that was populated with radical Muslims. I lived my life like every other nominal Christian in a country filled with Muslims – quietly and careful not to speak about Christianity. I grew up in a loving home where God was respected but not worshiped. I always knew that God was our Creator, who dwelled far above us in heaven, watching over us to see who was good and who was bad.
While I was still a boy, around the age of twelve, I was invited by a friend to attend an evangelical church close to our house. I went to check it out because I was curious about this brave evangelical church in the middle of a city full of radical Muslims.
Upon entering the church, I felt very welcomed. I watched as the people interacted with such a genuine love between them even though they were all from different backgrounds and families. Their teaching and way of life intrigued me, so I continued going on a weekly basis to that church. I wanted to hear more of their teaching and have fellowship with them.
In 1995, the church invited me to attend a conference with them in the north. I was excited to go, and at this conference my life was changed. During the conference, they showed the “Jesus” film in Arabic. While watching the film, I felt as if I was living in the days of Jesus, and all the stories that I had been taught about Jesus came alive on that screen. They began to become more than stories, but a reality to me. The one scene that gripped me while watching the film was seeing Jesus on the cross, and upon His death, the veil of the temple was ripped apart. I continued to think about that scene wondering what exactly that it meant. When the film finished, the pastor starting sharing why Jesus had to die and was crucified. He explained the holiness of God and the depths of our sin. At that moment, I felt the weight of my own sin and saw how dirty and unworthy I was to stand before such a holy God. Conviction began stirring in my heart. Then the pastor stated this, “Even if you see that there is no hope in yourself, the Lord is telling you that He has torn the veil that separated you from Him, through the blood of His Son on the cross. By confessing Jesus as Lord, you will gain the right to stand before God.” At that precise moment, I felt inexplicable joy and peace being poured into my heart. It was truly a supernatural moment! It was that day that I surrendered to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, confessed Jesus as Lord, and devoted my life to Him.
After that time, I had a great thirst for God’s Word and began studying for hours in the Bible to understand and know my Savior. The Lord continued working faithfully in my life, sanctifying me through His Word and His Spirit. Everyday, I grew in the knowledge of His grace and realized to a greater degree the depths of my sin. I was more and more humbled at the reality of being forgiven and called His son.
In 1997, I followed in obedience to the Bible and our Lord’s example and was baptized. At that time, I also felt the Lord confirming His call on my life to share the Gospel with Muslims and establish local churches that could disciple newly converted Muslims and train them to advance the Gospel. My heart continued to expand in love for all the Muslims around me as I watched them, day in and day out, devote their lives to a false religion.
As my desire to share the Gospel with Muslims grew stronger, I began studying deeper in the Bible. I also began to study Islam in order to better understand the religion and its followers for whom God was burdening me. By God’s grace, I was able to understand the complex written language of the Quran as well as the commentaries for the Quran.
Throughout high school and the university, I sought opportunities to share the truth of Christ and engage with the Muslim people. I began Bible study groups that included a mixture of Christians, Muslims, and newly converted Muslims. Many of them had questions and were thirsty to know more about Jesus Christ.
After graduating from college, I began working, and I used my job as a platform to share the Gospel. Soon the government of my country became aware of my evangelistic activities. I received a phone call from an unknown number and the person introduced himself as the secret police. They wanted to see me. I began panicking and called my pastor. He reassured me and said “Do not be afraid because you are serving the strongest Boss on earth.”
I arrived the next day to the office of the secret police. They led me into a room and questioned me for four hours. They ask me a series of questions about my thoughts on Islam, and they wanted to know why I attended an evangelical church. I told them that I attended the evangelical church because I did not believe Islam was the religion from God and that I believed that Jesus was the only way to heaven. I was shocked at the boldness that the Lord provided me! Despite my interrogator’s disgust and anger to my response, the interview ended with them merely threatening me and stating that I was not to evangelize or say anything against Islam. This visit was the first of many visits to come with the secret police.
I continued with my ministry, gaining more brothers and sisters with willing hearts to spread the Gospel throughout our country. Again, the secret police visited me while I was at work, placing me in their car and driving off with me. They began looking through my laptop and questioning specific cases where I shared the Gospel with men. They also wanted to know who was funding me in my work. They drove me to an office to interrogate me once again. They ask me to sign a paper that was full of statements about being a law-abiding citizen, loyal to my country, and supporting my country. That paper also included one line stating that I would not evangelize Muslims with my Christian beliefs. I told them I agreed with the paper fully and would sign it when they removed that one line from the paper. They became furious. They called my brother and father, threatening to kill me if I did not stop evangelizing Muslims. I continued to refuse to sign their paper, and they sent me to one officer after another. Finally, they sent me to their main boss. I again refused to sign the paper, and he also became furious. He stated, “Don’t you know that I can send you to prison for the rest of your life!” I said, “I know this, but I cannot sign this paper until you remove that one line.” They then led me three stories underground to a cell and locked the door. I sat in the cold, dark silence in my cell, awaiting their next move.
After only fifteen minutes, a man opened the door, and took me back to the main boss’s office cursing me along the way. The boss stated, “See, I can put you in jail. Now sign the paper.” I stated, “I never doubted that you could send me to jail, as I previously told you, but you can forget the paper. I will not sign it, and if you want to place me in prison, then do it. However, after I am released, I will go outside our country through multiple social and media networks, and I will claim to have been persecuted for my faith. Through this, many will come to know Christ!” After this statement, I was cursed repeatedly. Then they kicked me out of their building.
That visit was in 2005. In every month after that they continued to confront me with a variety of different visits, phone calls, and threats. Then, the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2010 brought an end to my monthly visits. The secret police rarely interfered anymore with my ministry because they were preoccupied with too many other things at that time. My last investigation was two months ago (2013). It lasted four hours. I am amazed at how the Lord has always provided me with His perfect peace during these investigations and shown me just what to say in the most trying moments. Truly He is faithful to His Word!
I praise the Lord for saving me and giving me the honor to serve Him in the Middle East. Currently, I have a ministry that has grown and is flourishing throughout the Arab world by the grace of God. Christ is worthy of us risking our lives to share His Gospel! Christ promised that He would build His church, and I can promise you that despite the Arab Spring and all the other chaos in the Middle East, Christ IS building His church! We are seeing Him move in miraculous ways. He is worthy and good! Please pray as I, and others with me, continue to move about the Arab World sharing His Truth. Pray that His will might be done and that His Name might continue to be spread and known among the Arab nations!