Marriage changes the way Lydia does ministry

Lauren O'Shea | Near East

When she first arrived on the field, Lydia* was learning Arabic and living in a women’s dormitory in Syria.

“My Arabic was limited, but there were some girls who lived in the dorms with me that were very interested [in learning about Jesus],” Lydia remembered. “They needed to know the Lord, in spite of my ability with their language.”

Lydia started studying the Bible with them and quickly realised that she didn’t have the vocabulary in Arabic to explain the Scriptures or answer the questions the girls had. But, the girls were so hungry for the Word that they helped Lydia navigate the language.

“If I had tried looking in a dictionary, it wouldn’t have helped,” Lydia explained. “Arabic is a complex language and sometimes there could be five options for the same word, each to be used in a different context. If the girls hadn’t been so willing to help, I wouldn’t have been able to teach them nearly as much about the gospel.”

She shared, it didn’t matter how good she is or how gifted; if God wants to reach people, He will do it.

Married life

“There is an Arab proverb that says, ‘A single woman is like a house with no fence--very dangerous,’” Lydia explained.

The Bedouin people she had been working amongst as a single were preoccupied and perplexed by her singleness. Most didn’t understand why she had moved away from her parents without having a husband.

When she got engaged, her Bedouin friends threw a big party to celebrate.

“At one of the villages, they slaughtered a sheep in front of my fiance's eyes to show the honour I had given them by leaving the dangers of being a single woman,” Lydia remembers.

Marriage changed the way Lydia did ministry. Before, as a single woman, she spent a lot of time living in community with the girls in the dorms. Living together allowed Lydia to form close relationships that wouldn’t have been possible in another setting.

Now, she reaches out to women, specifically mothers, who are Muslim Syrian refugees. She seeks out those who don’t go to the Christian centres or churches and introduces these women, who have never heard about Christ, to Jesus.

“The married women I’m working with now allow me into conversations I would have never been a part of if I was still single,” Lydia said. “When I was single, I reached out to singles. It feels natural now to reach out to married women since I am a married woman.”

Leading locals in ministry

One day, Lydia met a woman who had just been given a Bible but had refused to read it. When she got home, the woman opened the Bible and saw a vision. She saw a light shining out of the Bible and moving towards the wall.

“For her, it was God telling her, ‘Follow Me,’” Lydia explained. “I met her right after she got the vision. Because of what she saw, she decided to become a believer all by herself without knowing what she was getting herself into.”

After spending time discipling this woman, Lydia has noticed that her life has truly changed. She’s seen her grow from being focused on herself and her own problems to being focused on teaching her children about Jesus and wanting to reach out to others.

"Today she is doing ministry herself. It's very cool to see," Lydia declared. "She is a better missionary than I am," she said with a chuckle.

Please pray for Lydia and her family as they serve in the OM Near East Field. Pray that the women reached through her ministry would come to know Jesus and be motivated to share His love with others.

*Name changed

Lauren O'Shea is a journalist from the United States. She is a communications intern for OM Middle East North Africa and is dedicated to telling the world what God is doing through global missions and the arts.

Published: Wednesday, 17 August 2016
Credit: Lauren O'Shea
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