Arab believers share faith

Nicole James | Near East

It wasn’t unusual for long-term OM worker Koheun* to invite friends to lunch. But her guest list was far from ordinary, crossing religious boundaries Arabs themselves usually observed.

“I ended up having five Muslims coming, local friends, and then, I also thought I can invite Christian friends,” Koheun explained.

Although she lives in a city with upwards of 80,000 people, “it’s actually a very small community,” she described. Despite the eight women’s different backgrounds, within two minutes of conversation at Koheun’s house, they discovered mutual acquaintances.

“They got very quickly connected,” Koheun remembered. Then her Arab Christian friends, eager to share spiritual truth, turned the topic from small talk to what they believed. “There was some kind of opposition, and it was very interesting conversation,” Koheun said.

After lunch, the Muslim women left, but Koheun’s Christian friends stayed for a short debrief.

“How did you feel the conversation went?” Koheun asked.

“We were very encouraged. We would like to share more…We want to know how to engage our Muslim neighbours and nominal-Christian-background friends,” they responded.

Koheun prayed with her friends and talked about studying more together. They were “very interested in learning and having more training,” she said. When they left, Koheun considered the resources she had accessed through OM, especially the Discovery Bible Study (DBS) training that OM workers had facilitated at a conference for Arab partners the year before.

A low-barrier method of Bible study, DBS invites participants to read (or listen to) a Bible text, retell the story in their own words and answer three straightforward questions: What did you learn about God? What did you learn about people? What do you need to do to obey this text?

DBS also introduces non-believers to prayer by transitioning them from simply talking about life’s challenges and blessings to sharing those directly with God.

“How can I implement this resource in my local church?” Koheun wondered.

Simple resource spreads wide

Koheun first floated her idea to the OM Near East field leader. Then, with his support, she visited her pastor. They chatted about various aspects of ministry, and then the pastor brought up the need for more training: “We want to have more resources in order to train our local believers.”

“I have some ideas,” Koheun said, listing a few different options.

“DBS sounds interesting,” he responded.

With the pastor’s approval, Koheun set a date and began coordinating the training. Counting her close Christian friends and a few people from the church, Koheun estimated 15 Arab believers would attend.

As the date grew closer, word of the training spread. Another OM worker connected Koheun to Arab friends doing Bible studies in her city; a partner NGO sent out an email advertising the training to the local pastors it supported. “I got reports—40 people coming, 50 people coming, 60 people coming, 70 people will come!” Koheun remembered.

However, knowing the culture, she tempered her enthusiasm. “Many people show interest, but not many people will come. In the end, God will bring the right people,” she told herself.

On the morning of the half-day DBS training, scheduled from 9:30 to 15:30, Koheun and a few other volunteers arrived at the church before 9:00. Soon, other people arrived. “People kept coming and coming. We didn’t even open the church door [yet], but people were waiting outside,” she remembered.

In the end, 80 people attended the training Koheun thought would reach 10 or 15 Arab believers. “I was very encouraged,” Koheun said. After the event, she heard from believers who had changed the format of Bible studies they were already leading from traditional teaching to the learner-friendly DBS approach.

Months after the event, one Sunday evening at church, two young Arab men approached Koheun. Unsure of what they wanted, she was surprised when they thanked her for the DBS training. They were still using what they had learnt.

*Name changed

Nicole James is an international writer for OM, passionate about publishing stories of God’s work among the nations and telling people about the wonderful things He is doing around the world.

Published: Friday, 25 August 2017
Credit: Nicole James
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