The Adventure Begins
I left early one morning, hoping to get a good start, but managing to miss my bus anyway. If I’ve learned one thing during my two decades of missionary work, it is that God’s plans are always better than mine. I knew He had something very special in store for me.
My plan was to travel to Jordan to share the Gospel with the many Muslims who had been pouring over the border from Syria as refugees from the deadly violence that has been ongoing there since March of 2011. In sharing Christianity with Muslims, it is crucial to build bridges by establishing cordial relationships. The longer you engage Muslim men and women in conversation, the stronger the bridge, creating an open door with which to talk with them, with the goal of handing them spiritual literature they can read at their own convenience.
On this day, I took a taxi to Jordan’s capital of Amman, where I visited the Jordanian Bible Society. Part of the purpose for my visit was to order study Bibles for Iraqi pastors, so they could be better equipped to share their faith with their fellow citizens. Another objective for my visit was to send money to a missionary friend in Lebanon so that he could purchase Arabic Bibles for distribution among Muslims. From Jordan, it was a simple task to send money to Lebanon.
I traveled north from Amman by bus to a town on the Iraqi border. Next to the town there is a refugee camp that was established by the Jordanian government. There are currently more than 235,000 registered refugees with the United Nations and another 100,000 who are not registered. The camp I visited, called Zaatari, is a huge tent city that is home to about 80,000 refugees. The influx of refugees has created a humanitarian nightmare for Jordan, which is not a wealthy nation. Medical clinics are strained, food and medicinal supplies are sparse, essentials are hard to come by, and Jordanian schools are struggling to meet the needs of the flood of children who are swelling their overcrowded classrooms.
The Christian presence in Jordan is small (somewhere between three and six percent of the population), but these faithful believers are trying their best to help meet the overwhelming needs confronting their nation. There is a small church in the city of Mafraq that provides mattresses, blankets, food, and other necessities. These faithful believers are frequent visitors to the refugee camp, ministering to needy families and sharing their faith in Christ.
Young Father with a Need
As my friend and I returned to the church, we met a man standing on the street corner and struck up a conversation with him. He told us that he was a Muslim from Homs, Syria, the place where the Syrian uprising began. As we spoke, he showed us a picture of his newborn baby. I prayed for the little one and gave the man an Arabic New Testament. We then began walking together, and he told us that he was in need of milk and diapers. We told him we would ask the church for help, then went our separate ways. We ran into the man a little later, and he mentioned again how much he needed the items. My friend and I decided to buy them for him, for which he was very grateful.
The Syrian man invited us to his home, a modest one-bedroom apartment he shared with his wife and baby. He offered us coffee, which we accepted, and as we drank together, we were able to explain the Gospel message to him and his wife and encourage him to read the New Testament we had given him.
As he began to feel comfortable with us, he shared his story. He was just 22 years old and had fled the government of President Bashar al-Assad. According to the young man, the Syrian army is composed of mercenary soldiers from different countries. The man had witnessed the death of many people, family members included. Furthermore, his ten-year-old brother is behind bars in a Syrian jail. Like many refugees in Jordan, the young man is not permitted to work and must live on charity. He and his wife, though, are grateful to be alive.
Sadly, there are many like him; nearly every refugee family suffers from disease, injury, and sickness, and each has horror stories concerning the death of friends and family members.
The believers of Mafraq are doing what they can and deeply covet your prayers. Also, please pray for the Syrian refugees, that they will open their hearts and minds to the saving Gospel of Christ.
Help Us Fight the Battle
The Middle East has always been a turbulent arena and will continue to be so until the Lord Jesus returns to bring peace. Until then, Christians must be a testimony in both word and deed; we must always be prepared to make good on the many opportunities we receive to share the Gospel with our Jewish and Muslim friends.