After arriving in the Gulf, Nick started hanging out with young men in his community, usually in their 20s and 30s. His friends ranged from students to government employees to soldiers to unemployed.
“You can think of an Arab the same as you can think of any other friend you have in your country,” Nick described. “The fact that they have the same needs and same aspirations and dreams, just like I do or anybody else in the West outside of the Middle East, makes them normal.”
Nick spent time with his new friends as he would anyone else—going out, drinking tea, playing games. He also focused on introducing spiritual topics into conversations early on. “It is easy to share within the first five meetings. If you don’t share within the first week or two, it’s very hard to share afterwards. But if you’ve been sharing from the beginning, you can easily continue,” he said. “That doesn’t mean it’s always the gospel message, but it’s religious subjects.”
The house Nick rented had a large living area, which he and his roommates outfitted with a ping pong table. Often they invited local friends to hang out there. “One of the guys, Khalil*, liked spending time with us so much that he would always bring [other] people to our house,” Nick said.
Late one evening, Khalil showed up at Nick’s gate unannounced. “I had a horrible day, and I need to talk to somebody,” he said. The two men chatted, and afterwards, Nick suggested inviting some more friends to come over.
Around 2am, Khalil fell asleep on a floor cushion while the other men continued playing games. Finally, there was only one local left besides Khalil. Since Khalil was sleeping soundly, Nick decided to grab a blanket from inside the house and sleep in the living area, too.
When they exited the room, the other local told Nick that he had been exploring the different sects of Islam but could not find peace. “I am a Muslim and I want the truth,” he announced. “Maybe God sent you, Nick, to tell me the truth.”
Nick talked to the guy for over an hour while Khalil slept. Eventually, he left, and Nick grabbed headphones so he could play worship music to block out the loud Islamic music Khalil had left playing on his phone. Then he fell asleep.
The next morning, Nick woke Khalil in time for work, but Khalil told him he had the day off and went back to sleep. Later, when Khalil woke up, he told Nick, “Two things that never happen to me happened to me [last night]. I never slept in someone else’s house before, and I never fall asleep with music.”
Nick realised God had allowed Khalil to fall asleep – at someone else’s house and with loud music – so that he could share with his other friend.
Because Khalil spent time with many foreigners, Nick and others worried he might be spying on the Christians. However, Khalil continued to introduce new locals to Nick. Through Khalil, “we were able to share with a lot of people,” Nick said. “I hear of people that never come to Christ, but they bring others on the path. I don’t want this to happen with him because I want him to be saved as well.”
“I see this guy who’s very very gracious,” Nick described. Khalil often displayed generosity, like giving away half of his expensive birthday cake to a shop worker or offering poor people rides in his luxury car. “I’m still trying to see how much he does that to show off, but he does it all the time,” Nick noted. “God can really redeem this generosity.”
Khalil has heard a lot of the gospel, but most of the time he has a counter argument from the Qur’an, Nick said. “He listens to everything I have to say, then he gives me his share…I’ve been praying with him, and I’ve been praying for him to go beyond [the idea of] ‘this is my side and this is your side.’”
*Name changed for security
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, 23 February 2018
Credit: Nicole James