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11 May 2023

Young Christians showing courage


CMS missionaries are often working with new believers, as they serve amongst people groups where the gospel is not known—or if once known, has now been forgotten. Here are three stories of how ignorance of Jesus has been replaced by his grace.

Muslims meeting Jesus

As told by S & M in the Middle East

The sun is shining, but the streets are empty. Everyone sleeps late on a Sunday in the Arab world, but take a glimpse through the doors of our local church, and the pews are literally overflowing. Our pastor’s wife says, “This kind of growth was a dream just a few years ago”. Locals and migrants, poor and rich, sick and healthy, baptised and unbaptised, all sing traditional church songs together and drink coffee.

Muslims are the majority in our location, but there is still a sizeable ‘churched’ community. One lady started coming after receiving supermarket vouchers from the church. Her husband is disabled and her son is mentally ill. She said, “I love coming because at this church the sermons have meaning for my life. I understand them”.

There is also a whole congregation who are Syrian refugees from a Muslim background. People came for the food and stayed for the Word! We now know people in this congregation who have experienced healings and visions in the name of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, coming to church is not always easy. The community whispers and old tribal lines are still enforced. Our friend Khalil*, who came to Christ because of his wife and had been reading the Bible with our team, is afraid to come too regularly. He receives violent threats from relatives over the phone. Yet this man always greets others with a smile.

Supporting this blossoming community means: visits, visits, visits!

Sometimes these visits mean cardamom coffee, long chats and prayer with men. Sometimes they mean guiding a group of women to listen to Bible stories on their phone and discuss their meaning. Our team has seen the Lord move in people’s lives, even to the often-painful point of putting Jesus’ words about reconciliation into action.

The dream of seeing gospel-poor peoples reached is coming into reality in our location because the Lord Jesus Christ is somehow able to use the suffering in the world to bring about good. The extent of the suffering seems to only increase, but by the faithful sending of gospel messengers—together with the prayers, the love, and the generosity of those (like CMS) doing the sending—Muslim people are becoming part of a world that knows Jesus.

A church in the Middle East.

Amelie’s* story of speaking out   

As told by Catherine Puffett in France

Amelie trusts God, but as a growing Christian there have been difficulties.

There has long been a closed door in Amelie’s life: talking about God at work. This is something that is not done in France.

Amelie prayed, and we prayed as a community with her that this door would open. It seemed impossible. In French workplaces it can be quite hard to even disclose your faith. If you work in the public sector—as a teacher, or for the government—it is written into a charter that all public sector work is a ‘faith-free’ zone.

Now, by God’s grace, the door to speaking of God at work has opened.

When the opportunity presented itself, Amelie bravely spoke up. It might seem simple, but this is a little miracle. And a big miracle too!

Since then, a colleague was invited and came along to our church service. Amelie’s step of faith in prayer, of daring to speak in a context that is extremely closed, and letting God work, has been a great testimony. The impossible became possible with God. He surprises us, and with this little step of faith, our community has been encouraged to grow in our trust that God can do the impossible: that he will continue to grow and shape us and work through us, even in the things that seem impossible right now.

A church service in Nantes, France.

Naasir’s story

As told by Josh Apieczonek, and Naasir 

I met Naasir at a ‘Grill a Christian’ event in Saint-Etienne, where students invite their friends to come along and ask any question they want of a Christian. Naasir was a Muslim who had been coming to the group for a while and, as invited, he ‘grilled’ me with lots of questions. I have found that when people ask lots of questions, they’re either trying to prove something wrong, or they’re honestly searching.

Naasir was honestly searching. A month later he was present for a weekend we ran on Islam and again asked lots of questions.   

A few months later he came along to another weekend and was asked over dinner about his family’s religious background. He said, “My family is Muslim, but I am Christian”. What a deep joy to hear those words come from him! 

As I have talked with him more about his decisions and the consequences for him, it is very clear he has thought long and hard about it. I asked him some further questions about this: 

Josh: Why did you decide to follow Jesus? 

Naasir: It was amazing for me to realise that we are saved by Jesus. I have always wanted to serve a good and just king. To be one of his ‘knights’! But I had never met this king. Neither my manager, my coach, my parents—no-one measured up. But Jesus is indeed the only one.   

J: What has been a highlight of your time as a Christian? 

N: On one level I find grace difficult to accept. Sometimes
I like to merit what I obtain, that seems just. But it is amazing to be saved by him. I love to read the gospels and see how Jesus restores and fixes everything that was distorted and broken before he came.   

J: What difficulties have you faced as a believer? 

N: For me, I don’t feel like following Jesus is easy or without cost. The cost for me is the changes and consequences that entails in my life. It can destroy family relations, friendships and other things. It seems for certain people it doesn’t cost much, but for others it costs a lot to follow Jesus.

J: How have those around you responded to your decision to follow Christ?

N: It is difficult for me to figure out how to speak to my parents about my faith in Jesus without losing my relationship with them. I still haven’t told them.

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

University Christian organisation (GBU) debate.


CARE

Having read these stories, could you send a message to a CMS missionary? You could tell them what you are praying for them, and your prayers for those they are working alongside.