We spent Wednesday and Friday evenings in different parts of the city, prayer walking and attempting to share our faith. Whether it was an upscale shopping mall, or a seedy street in the red light district, we covered the city in prayer and had many spiritual conversations. Although we saw no immediate fruit we pray that seeds have been planted. We prayed for pedestrians, pimps, and prostitutes. We prayed for residents of this country and illegal immigrants. And we prayed that God would do a mighty work in this city.
On Thursday we divided into teams and put our “Amazing Race” skills to the test by taking the train into the city, and utilizing the public transport system. Hannah and N joined a group of women and hit a local mall area. Another group headed to an area concentrated with the ethnic group we are trying to reach. Another group headed to a local mosque to pray for the people in the building, and hopefully have spiritual conversations. Because we are ministering during Ramadan there are not many Muslims out until after they break fast around 7:30 each evening. They do a total fast from sunrise to sunset which means nothing passes their lips during that time, including water. In a hot, humid country that means Muslims try to stay indoors as they observe their fast.
Some trips result in an Acts like explosion of the local church, and that is what we always yearn for. Other trips, like this one, see little, discernible fruit. The disappointment is hard to deal with at times. It can eat at you, and make you wonder what, if anything, you are doing wrong. In talking to our partners here, they have shared that their biggest struggle is with despair that comes from the lack of visible fruit. The harvest field here is hard terrain. But it is not barren, and we trust that a church will arise. Even Paul experienced disappointment in ministry. In Athens, at the end of Acts 17, the Bible says that many ridiculed his belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have also experienced objections to the Gospel. One 27 year old told us that no matter what we told her she would never stop being a Muslim, even though she also admitted that no religion (including her own) had the truth. Another young man said that salvation offered through Christ was “too easy”. Another man, when told that Christ had died for his sins said it is a lie that Christ was even crucified.
Despite these disappointments we continue to plow ahead. On Friday we studied Acts 18 and we were encouraged by this verse: And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” (Acts 18:9-10, ESV) Paul had apparently experienced such deep discouragement that Jesus appeared in a vision to reassure him. Our Lord promised Paul three things:
1. He was with him.
2. No one would harm him.
3. He had many people in the city (of Corinth) that Paul was trying to reach.
And so we are encouraged that there are many people in this city. And many people in your city, and our hometowns. People who long to be released from the futility of earning their salvation. People hungry for hope and desperate to meet their Savior. And so we labor on knowing that the work is hard, but it is not in vain.
- That churches would send short, mid, and long term missionaries to this city. Ask the Lord of the harvest for laborers (Luke 10:2).
- Pray that more people, and more churches, will catch a vision for the lost around them, and the unreached in distant cities (Matthew 24:14).
- Pray that Jesus Christ will be glorified in every language on the earth by every people on the earth (Psalm 100:1-2).
- Pray that the following names, people we have spoken to this week, would choose to follow Christ: Lydia, Lim, Ankib, Firas, Ridzuan, and Bihur among the many others.