Born into a Palestinian Muslim family, Fatimah (not her real name) is a young college student. A few months ago, Adventist tourists visited Jerusalem, and they became friendly with Fatimah as they browsed her family’s gift shop. They exchanged WhatsApp contact information, and then Fatimah turned to other customers.
That’s when Jesus intervened in Fatimah’s life. Twice He appeared in visions to her, and she experienced a love she never imagined possible. She decided to follow Jesus. But how? She asked a local Orthodox priest about Jesus but was rebuffed. “You are Muslim; stay a Muslim!” Fatimah prayed for guidance.
Then she remembered the friendly American tourists. They had spoken to her of Jesus. She reached out to them, and they passed her details to me. I had the privilege of speaking with Fatimah about her desire to follow Jesus. Terrified of an honor killing, she gradually opened up about her love for Jesus and desire to be baptized. Fatimah is now studying the Scriptures via WhatsApp, daily fearful of discovery but growing in grace, truth and joy.
Born here in North America, Jimmy has a similar story of how Jesus intervened in his life. Marital discord, alcohol abuse and domestic violence characterized his home. Jesus was never mentioned except as an expletive. Born with neurological problems, Jimmy could not process noise. He lived in a world of auditory confusion, unable to differentiate his mother’s call from a passing street vendor.
At age three Jimmy dreamed that he was standing before a dark, forbidding valley. On the other side of a chasm was a shining city, but he had no way of getting to it. A man in robes appeared carrying a lantern. He invited Jimmy to take hold of his hand, and he would lead him to the shining city. Jimmy learned to hope. When Jimmy was four, the same man appeared to him in his yard and invited him to talk to him rather than his violent father whenever he messed up. Jimmy learned to pray. At age five, Jimmy went to a local Vacation Bible School and saw the man with the lantern in a picture on the wall. The quote underneath was from Revelation 3:20. Jimmy learned who the mysterious man with the lantern was.
With his auditory handicap, Jimmy struggled in school. In third grade, the teacher told him that he had one week to “shape up or ship out” to a school for special-needs children. Desperate, Jimmy asked Jesus for help. The next morning a new boy came to school. That day, Jimmy’s teacher decided to give him a final test: she instructed him to read out loud. Fear gripped his heart. He had never read before. His mind could not link sounds with the text. The new boy looked him in the eye and whispered, “Open and read!” Jimmy opened the book, and the words suddenly made sense. For the first time ever, he could read! The astonished teacher tested him with other materials, and Jimmy read confidently without mistakes. The next day, the new boy didn’t come to school, and Jimmy learned that he had moved to a different school. Jimmy thanked his friend Jesus for answering his prayer. Today, after many other struggles in life, Jimmy is preparing for baptism as a Seventh-day Adventist.
The story of mission is really the story of Jesus, alive and risen, reaching into the lives of people worldwide and inviting them to follow Him. Our part at AFM is to follow where Jesus is already at work.
Open our eyes, Lord, that we may see Jesus—in the lives of those around us, and in our own homes and hearts also. Grant us the discernment to perceive His presence, the grace to accept His will, and the courage to follow Him.