MENAnews: A 22-hour adventure in faith

OM International | Arabian Peninsula

“You can call this story ‘22 hours,’” OM worker Craig* began. “I’ve been here almost three years, and I have never had such an experience.”

In fact, when his friend Logan* suggested the pair embark on a 'Luke 10-style journey', Craig didn’t have faith that they could accomplish their aims. The two goals were straightforward—give away a Bible and sleep in a local house—but far from simple. For single men, overnight invitations come from local families rarely, if ever, Craig said. Nonetheless, challenged by Logan, Craig agreed to try.

The night before their faith adventure, Craig and Logan started preparing. To engage spiritually, they fasted, consuming only liquids. Practically, they went to a shop to buy necessary maintenance items for their car. While there, they chatted with a man in front of the shop who introduced himself and told the two about his home village.

In the morning, as Craig and Logan prayed about their destination, Logan said, “I think we should go to this place where the guy’s from.” When they reached the village, unsure of who they should talk to, they parked their car near the sea and wandered onto a dock, hoping to get a boat ride from a local fisherman. One man finally offered the two a short tour in his boat, “but that was it,” Craig noted. “They were not the people God wanted us to meet specifically.”

Craig and Logan wandered to the other side of the dock, where a group of young men were scouring the rocks lining the sea, looking for a phone someone had dropped. The two chatted with the guys while they hunted for the phone, picking out common interests and enjoying the conversation. Finally, one of the young men rescued the phone, and the group invited Craig and Logan to visit a local attraction, about a 45-minute drive from the dock.

After the excursion, the young men dropped the two foreigners back at the dock, where Craig and Logan discovered their car closed behind a gate. Although the security guard would have allowed them to take their car and leave, they instead struck up another conversation with a man standing near their parked vehicle.

“Are you driving back tonight?” Abdullah* asked them.

“Not yet. We’re trying to see the places around and maybe spend the night here,” they replied.

Satisfied he wasn’t deterring them from heading home, Abdullah invited them to walk to a hotel 40 minutes down the beach. Although he hesitated to engage with spiritual topics in the beginning, he opened up after a while. By the time they entered the beach behind the building, he was very open, Craig noted. “For almost two hours on the hotel beach, we were talking,” Craig said. “All this time we were able to share... He was very interested in talking about religion.”

On the way back to the car, Abdullah even called his sheikh, an Islamic religious official. At the time, Craig didn’t want to talk to the sheikh personally, so he instead used his phone to type answers to the official’s proposed questions.

Back at the dock, Abdullah, Craig and Logan joined a crowed of around 15 men, fishing for squid. They stayed until almost 2:00 in the morning, talking and hanging out. “Part was spiritual, part just cars and guy chats,” Craig said.

Finally, Abdullah turned to the foreigners: “You’re not going home tonight,” he announced, his way of inviting them to spend the night at his home. Following local custom, they refused his offer a couple of times before eventually accepting.

Once they arrived at the house, Abdullah turned on his computer. Logan quickly fell asleep, but Craig stayed up with their host until 4:00, reading through one of the Qu’rans surahs and continuing their talk about religion.

Around noon the next day, Abdullah’s mother woke the men by pounding on the bedroom door. She also brought them breakfast, but Craig and Logan explained they were fasting. Soon, another family member entered the room and asked why they were not eating. Again, they shared what fasting meant from their Christian perspective.

Just before 13:30, Craig and Logan prepared to leave, having accomplished half of their goals. “We have a Bible, we’d like to leave it with you,” they told the family. Although Abdullah hesitated to receive the book—and even suggested giving it to his sheikh—another family member accepted the gift. In return, Abdullah offered Craig a Russian Qu’ran but switched to a book covering questions about Islam and Christianity once Craig told him he already owned an English translation of the Muslim holy book.

“All this happened in 22 hours,” Craig recounted. “Almost everybody we met, we had the opportunity to share.”

For both Craig and Logan, the trip took endurance. “We were tired, and we hadn’t slept. I hadn’t slept the nights before much, and I hadn’t had food, but it was just amazing how God worked in weakness,” Craig said. “All praise to Him.”

Most of all, the trip required faith. “I know God sent us,” Craig concluded. “They now have the Word and have heard the gospel, and God will continue to work.”

Workers in the Arabian Peninsula require plausible reasons to live in their host cities and countries. Many areas, like the village visited by Craig and Logan, completely lack Christian witness. Pray for God to appear to locals in visions and dreams, and pray for believers to find creative ways to access these areas.

*Name changed

Nicole James is a journalist, ESL teacher and adventurer. As a writer for OM Middle East North Africa, she’s passionate about publishing the stories of God’s works among the nations, telling people about the wonderful things He is doing in the world.

Published: Monday, 21 November 2016
Credit: OM International
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