Lessons From The Middle East
Most people don’t like to do things or go places that might make them feel uncomfortable. We naturally seek after comfort and security. However, every time I travel to another country God teaches me new and invaluable lessons by placing me in uncomfortable situations. I go because I desire to share the gospel and be a part of making disciples of all nations, but most times I feel like God changes me more through the trip than I actually contribute to the spread of his kingdom . This reality was true again after my most recent trip to a small country in the Middle East. I hope these lessons will encourage you to take a deeper look into what God is doing among the nations and to consider going to see for yourself.
Though many countries in the world are closed and hostile to the gospel message, God is raising up global cities that bring in a multitude of people groups using a common trade language, English. For the church, an unprecedented opportunity awaits—an opportunity to engage and make disciples from all over the world, so that they can take the gospel message back to their own people. This is not only a possibility but a reality. The church we visited while in the Middle East had over 500 people from approximately 50-60 different ethnicities gathering together to worship Jesus. Not only is this church making disciples among these different people groups, but they also have created a pastor training program. They are training pastors from countries that we, as Americans, could not enter into even if we wanted. God is doing a work through these global cities to expand His Kingdom to the ends of the earth. People who would not normally have an opportunity to hear the gospel or meet a Christian are being engaged. Based upon how God seems to be using these global cities to accomplish his purposes, we would be wise to consider and ask ourselves how we can join in the work God is doing.
The second lesson God taught me concerns prayer and the Holy Spirit. Over and over again God proved that if we prayed for an opportunity to share the gospel, He would answer our prayer. In one such instance, a university student and I were walking around near a beach trying to strike up a conversation. After multiple conversations did not go as planned, we decided to sit down at an ice cream shop and pray. We prayed someone would sit down at the table next to us who was ready to hear the gospel. Within two minutes, two girls sat down. We looked at each other and said, “Well I guess we did not specify a gender.” Because it can be socially taboo for men and women to talk to one another in public particularly if they are strangers, we called a couple of girls from our group. They quickly came to the ice cream shop to talk with the girls, who were sitting next to us. The conversation quickly turned to the gospel. God answered our prayer. He then gave me another opportunity to share with one of the workers as I headed into the shop to grab some napkins for my dripping ice cream. I had gotten two scoops rather one so the hot sun was melting my ice cream faster than I could eat it. I had the opportunity to talk to him about following Christ and to pray for him. God, by His Spirit and in accordance with our prayers, gave opportunity after opportunity for us to share the gospel. As the trip came to an end I was convicted of how often I don’t pray for opportunities to share the gospel in Canyon. This conviction led to a resolve to pray for more opportunities and more boldness to share the gospel in my everyday life. Of this we can be sure, if we pray for opportunities to share the truth of Christ with those around us, God will answer. He gave us the mission to make disciples, and when we pray for strength and opportunities to be obedient to His mission, God will delight in responding. So let me encourage you to pray for boldness and opportunities to talk to your neighbors, co-workers, friends, and strangers about Jesus. God will deliver and you will be blessed.
These two lessons are just a snapshot of what God taught me in the Middle East. Other team members came back with different lessons and different convictions about what God taught them during the time there. God has called us to go and make disciples. As we do, God uses us to proclaim the good news of Christ to people who desperately need it and to encourage believers who are faithfully laboring in difficult places. At the same time, he teaches us lessons we need to apply to our life as we get outside of our comfort zone for the sake of Christ. I have yet to be on a trip that God did not perform spiritual surgery on my soul. It was not comfortable but it was good. So are you willing to GO and be uncomfortable for the sake of the Christ and for the good of your own soul?
For missions security purposes, the author will remain anonymous.