We were blessed yesterday to have Jill (not her real name) with us to speak to us during Sunday School, the worship service and a special evening service. We have been praying for and supporting Jill for 36 years. She was the first missionary that our church at Three Lakes took on to support and Three Lakes was her first supporter. Jill trusted Christ as her Savior at age eight and then at age twelve at a Bible camp, felt God calling her to be a foreign missionary. She was willing to go anywhere God might send her—except to a Muslim country! Well, when she attended a missions conference at Urbana, Illinois, God seemed to be directing her to Pakistan—a Muslim nation! While attending Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Oregon, God confirmed that call in some very specific ways. There was a need for a lab tech at a hospital in Pakistan. That happened to be Jill’s undergraduate training in college. She ended up working in that hospital and training native lab techs who continue the work. She also taught at a Christian school in Pakistan. Since she had to be very careful what she communicated back to the states, she couldn’t share much of what God was doing among the Pakistanis.
After many years in Pakistan, she went to Afghanistan—another Muslim nation—where she taught English as a second language, again with a very effective ministry, but was unable to say much until now. Christians are severely persecuted in both these countries and Jill had to be extremely discrete in any of her communications back to the States. In 2014, Jill got notice from her superiors that there had been a threat from the Taliban and she would need to leave the country. They called Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) and within two hours she was on a plane out of Afghanistan.
For the past three years Jill has been teaching English to refugees from countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Egypt who have fled to the United States. She not only helps them learn the language, but also shares the love of God with them. She may not be able to minister to folks overseas at this time, but God is sending them to her! Because “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). It is so exciting and encouraging to hear Jill’s stories of how God is reaching Muslims, often through dreams and visions, with Jesus appearing to them. She is now able to share things she couldn’t communicate with us until now. Those who come to Christ in the Muslim nations are persecuted and many are martyred for their faith. They ask us to pray, not for escaping the persecution, but to stay strong in their faith in the face of the persecution. (Note: some of Jill’s co-workers did give their lives for bringing the Good News of Christ to these nations).
We have other friends who are sharing about God’s love and forgiveness to folks in other nations where Christians are severely persecuted and where you cannot go as a “missionary.” Again, God is “calling out (from among all the nations of the world) a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). That group of “called-out ones” (ekklesia in the Greek) comprise what the New Testament calls the “church” (Eph. 1:22,23; 5:22-29) where “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). It is easy in our western culture to get so focused on the condition of the “church” in America that we forget we are just a part of Christ’s Body, the church, and that He is at work building His church as He promised He would do (Mt. 16:18) from every tribe and nation. When the Apostle John, while in exile on the Isle of Patmos, was caught up to heaven to be shown what must take place (Rev. 4:1,2) he witnessed a throng around the throne praising God and said, “I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb (Jesus), clothed in white robes and palm branches were in their hands…” (Rev. 7:9,10). Even though these are ones who will come to Christ during the Great Tribulation in the near future, God is even now at work among all the nations on earth, drawing people to Himself through the work of Christ on the cross.
One day we will stand shoulder to shoulder with this amazing Body of Christ from every tribe and language group and praise our Savior together. How exciting that will be! Sometimes we become discouraged with the condition of the church in our country and the apathy of so many professing Christians. It is so encouraging to know that God is still at work worldwide in hearts of those who have even been persecutors of believers, bringing them into His fold where “there is neither Jew nor Gentile,” just fellow members of His Body, the church. God really does love the “world” of humanity. We don’t have a corner on the market here in our country!
Be sure to pray for and support those who risk their lives to take the Good News of the Gospel to every tribe and nation. And pray for those who turn to Christ and face the persecution and possible death that results. These are our “brothers and sisters” in Christ. We will share eternity together.
P.S. An excellent book I highly recommend which shares how God is working among the Muslims is Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi who, although just in his 30’s, recently went to be with Jesus.