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11 May 2023

People exploring faith


As part of the CMS vision for a world that knows Jesus, our missionaries are always looking for opportunities to share the gospel with others. These stories show that God creates gospel opportunities in many different ways and relationships.

Students asking questions

As told by I in South East Asia

Over years of university teaching, some students have come to me (usually on their own) to talk about experiences of (Muslim) faith and ask me about my Christian beliefs. I have then been able to introduce them to others who can meet regularly to read the Bible with them. 

Jamie* had led an unruly lifestyle in his first year of university, but came to a deeper understanding of Islam and changed his ways. Later he took an interest in linguistics and asked if I would validate some data for his undergraduate thesis. That led to him meeting with me to borrow books and work on his pronunciation. By this time, he was serious about his studies and teaching career, and also about his Muslim faith. We decided to meet weekly and discuss topics which would be of interest to both of us, including matters of faith.    

He listened to my own conversion story with interest. Bible verses and stories came into our weekly discussions.

I wanted to hand him over to meet with a male Christian. As he was applying for scholarships for further studies in the UK, I asked him to meet me at a café and introduced him to a Christian friend from the UK. Jamie quickly made good friends with him and his family, and they have been reading the Bible together for many months now.

Alice* was an outstanding student, confident and interested in my culture classes. For many years part of the final exam has involved students doing an oral interview with me. In her interview Alice mentioned that she has ‘second sight’, and seeing ghosts and spirits made her life miserable. I explained that Christians pray about things like that, and in the name of Jesus tell the spirits to go. She came to my house a few weeks later and I opened Deuteronomy and other passages about not consulting spirits and asked her to think further. 

One day I took her by taxi to a friend’s house. This friend runs a women’s group which studies a bit of English, and then discusses a Bible passage in the national language. Two young women in this group are well on the way to making a decision to follow Jesus. Alice liked the group and attended for some months. They prayed with her about spirits, but it seems she may not have completely let them go yet. 

At the time of writing Alice is living in Australia, on a temporary work visa. I pray she will meet Christians who can help her on her journey.

Dania’s* story

As told by E in South Asia

Through using art and storytelling in my location, I have seen that gospel opportunities arise in unexpected relationships, including this one I shared with my housemates in recent years:

In late 2020, we met two uni aged sisters down the street and started hanging out occasionally. We would watch Bollywood movies together and laugh lots, but it was when my housemates started having regular language lessons with one of the sisters, Dania*, that the relationship deepened. She visited our house several times a week and as she felt more comfortable, she’d stay after the lesson just to chat.   

When we moved house, Dania came to visit the next day, Easter Sunday. Surrounded by boxes, sitting on a mattress on the floor, we got to share why Easter is such a big deal for us.

She listened, intrigued by the assurance we have through Jesus, the perfect and final sacrifice.

Many people here wouldn’t be willing to listen to this, but our relationship over two years had helped her feel safe with us.   

That night my two housemates and I talked with Dania together, but it’s also been fun to see how God has used our unique gifts to connect with her. 

A few months ago, she came for a language lesson. I had left some of my artworks out. She had recently started painting again, so she was asking where I got my ideas. I flicked through my art journal with her. On some pages were Bible verses, so we read them, and sometimes asked questions. It was a great discussion, ranging from explaining how the Old Testament was put together, to reminding her of the previous conversation about Jesus being the final sacrifice.   

More recently, my housemate was discussing sin and shame with Dania. Dania said, “I feel a sense of shame, just being a woman, every time I walk out of my house.” My housemate asked, “Is there a way in your faith to get rid of shame?” She replied, “That’s the question, how do you get rid of shame?”

We’re thankful to be on this journey with her.

Sahib’s* story

As told by J in Central Asia

For three months, twice a week, I travelled to a language centre for a lesson with my Central Asian language teacher, Sahib*, a young, single Muslim man. Over such a short time and in the context of a small room with thin walls, it seemed impossible to share much of spiritual significance with him. 

Then one day he informed me that he needed to leave our country the following week (at the insistence of his mother), fly to Kuwait and work as a waiter in an expensive hotel there to earn more money. So, on the final day of our lessons, I took him out for coffee.    

As we talked, his eyes filled with tears—a shock for me to witness, as Central Asian men tend to be guarded, for fear of how exposing vulnerability will affect their community reputation. He shared how he (by parental arrangement) became engaged just a few days before, how his relationship with his mother was strained and how he was afraid for the future, of being married and of not being able to provide for his family who were pressuring him to do so. 

I sat with him, listened carefully and at the end just shared something: “God has taught us in the Bible that the key to a good marriage is loving and serving each other self-sacrificially, as God himself has done for us.”

With Sahib’s permission, I prayed for him in a chaotic mix of English, some Central Asian words and in Jesus’ name. He responded, “This has been such a wonderful conversation, thank you!”    

I have successfully contacted Sahib only once since he left and sadly have not yet been able to connect again. But perhaps someday the Lord will choose to use something I said, and how I interacted with him that day over coffee, to progress Sahib toward himself.

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.


PRAY

Pray that God would lead the individuals in these stories to take further steps to look into what it means to follow Jesus.