Perhaps the most incredible testimony of Christians in the New Testament comes from a non-believer in Ephesus, “They were neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess” (Acts 19:37). The Christians certainly did not agree with the worship of Artemis, but neither did they judge those who did. Instead, they faithfully proclaimed the gospel and all in Asia heard it.
It was not up to the Christians to convert people. That was God’s work. Their responsibility was to share the good news of great joy that is for all people.
There might not be a better example of these New Testament Christians than what I recently witnessed in one Middle Eastern country. Religious freedom is limited and conversion can lead to severe persecution. The government has made it difficult for new churches to start and even Christian schools have to teach Islam. Still, the gospel is proclaimed through personal conversations and relationships. In this context, believers have to think of creative ways to engage people with the gospel.
I was recently standing in a courtyard of a Christian school listening to students read various texts: Quran, Bible, philosophy, and history. Teachers, when appropriate, integrate Christian principles into the curriculum. Even then, they trust that the Holy Spirit will work in students’ lives.
Looking for opportunities to build relationships with people is key to introducing them to Christ.
Through job skills training classes, our team has taught about Jesus alongside of computer technology, English language, cosmetology, and cellular phone repair. Christian students participate in classes with Muslims and refugees from Sudan and Syria. The friendships that are developed with the professors and between classmates often result in opportunities to have spiritual conversations.
Each year, through the generous gifts of people like you, 450 school children and 250 adults have a chance to learn about Jesus in a way that is respectful of their culture and religion. Thank you for your prayers for our work around the Middle East.
If you’d like to learn more about our work in one Middle Eastern country, check out Brother Nathan’s book, Love Casts Out Fear (Baker Books). If you are in the Hudsonville area, drop by our office for a discounted copy of only $5.
With you serving Him,
Michael T. Cooper, PhD
President and CEO