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Under the Cover of Night

“I heard you are becoming a Christian! Is that true?” The voice on the other end of the line belonged to a top leader in the Islamic community in Cambodia. Nico’s heart pounded. Everyone knew now.

That night, he decided to visit us at our house, instead of his, as we had planned. After dark, he showed up before the scheduled meeting time. We offered them the rest of our dinner that we were finishing, and eventually, Nico and his wife, Mary, ended up on the couch studying John 3 while their two youngest kids played quietly with River’s toys.
“Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven” (verse 5).

Nico took a deep breath as if about to explain the verse, only to shake his head and sigh with confusion.

“I don’t understand what this means,” Nico said to Eric and Josh.

“Nicodemus didn’t understand it either,” Eric replied as they looked again at verse 4: “How can a man be born again and enter into his mother’s womb?”

“I have been studying to become a religious teacher for decades,” Nico interjected, “I have traveled to the greatest religious universities, and I have even memorized the entire Quran. They call me a guardian of the Quran! But here I am, like an uneducated child, not understanding anything.”

Jesus’ next words were a sword piercing Nico’s heart.

“Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” (verse 10).

“That’s me. Nicodemus is just like me,” he exclaimed with tearful eyes.

Jesus was speaking to Nico personally and directly, just as he had spoken with Nicodemus two thousand years ago.

At this point, Nico began to ramble, “I have never learned anything like this. This is so incredible!”

“Be quiet!” his wife scolded gently. “I want to read more.” Mary was anxious to read the part about “how to be saved” that we had promised was coming up in the text.

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (verse 14).

“Who is the Son of Man?” Nico asked.

We replied, “The short answer is: Jesus.”

Nico hugged his raised, goosebump-covered arms. We then read the full answer in Daniel chapter 7. Nico and Mary were awed that Jesus existed before His incarnation on earth, receiving dominion and authority so that all nations should worship Him.

“Why do Muslims say Jesus was just a man? Jesus has been there all along!” Nico exclaimed.

We then meditated on the famous passage of John 3:16. Pausing, I asked Nico and his family, “What comes first, God’s love or our faith?”

Nico and Mary reread the passage and said, “God’s love.”

We elaborated, “God’s love is already there—unconditional. There is nothing we can do to cause God to love us. We do not do good works in order to obtain God’s love, but we do good works because God already loves us.”

Nico then began to slap his pockets and fumble around the couch. “What are you looking for?” We asked.

“My phone… my phone… I need to record this!” Nico said. “I have never heard this. I need to listen to this again at home and learn it.”

The evening ended with Nico and Mary on their knees, echoing a prayer of repentance for their sins, thankfulness to God for His great love, and laying their old life of sin and former beliefs behind. They surrendered to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit with faith in Jesus Christ, who saves them. Praise the Lord!

Please pray for Nico’s family as they learn what it means to be a follower of Christ and navigate the many inquiries from neighbors, friends and family who are curious, angry or incredulous about their conversion. Some are already expressing to Nico that they, too, want to become Christians. May this be the beginning of a great harvest among the Great River People!

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