Recently native missionaries in Syria were visiting the home of a Muslim mother whose children had put their faith in Christ when her husband came in with another woman.
“What the team didn’t know is that they were sitting with one mom and her kids, but the other kids had a different mom,” the ministry leader said. “The guy was actually married to two.”
The kids had given their lives to Christ at a local ministry’s children’s camp, and they had asked the local missionaries if they would visit their home. Such visits are key to workers making contact with Muslims and leading them to Christ.
The parents were not devout Muslims, but Islam allows men to take up to four wives. The father, Usama*, and his other wife sat down and introduced themselves. After spending a little time getting to know Usama, the team decided to let the visit stand as an introduction and left.
The first mother later indicated she would like them to visit again, as she wanted to ask how she could have a closer relationship with her daughter, the ministry leader said.
“After several meetings with her, the father also started to ask some questions,” the leader said. “He asked us, ‘I can see the difference in our 10-year-old daughter – every time before we eat, she prays, and before she goes to bed, she prays for everyone. And that is something she didn’t have before.’”
Workers explained that she learned at camp about God and how to pray to Him, and they told him how the Lord is a loving God who desires to see all people saved from sin. When they asked if he had requests for prayer, he mentioned general health and family issues, and they asked if there was anything specific.
“He said, ‘I want to have the joy that my daughter has,’” the ministry leader said.
They prayed together and left, and two days later his daughter asked if they could visit again. During the next visit, team members learned that the same night they had prayed with him, he had dreamt of Christ.
“This man in white came to me,” Usama told the workers, “and He said, ‘I love you,’ and He just put his arms around me and hugged me, and since that night I don’t know what to do.”
The ministry leader said, “You could tell from his face that something had happened to him.”
The local missionaries prayed with him again, and before they departed, they advised him, “Just be open to what God wants to do in your life.”
The next time the team visited, Usama and his first wife prayed to receive Christ, the leader said.
“Now I am married to two, what shall I do?” Usama asked the workers. “I can’t leave one. I love them both, and I love my family.”
The ministry leader told Usama that since Christ was revealed to him in a dream, then he should pray that He reveal Himself to his second wife as well.
Over the course of several weeks, they prayed for his second wife, and after much prayer and fasting, team members began a Bible study with the family. Saying she wanted the same peace that everyone else in the family had, the second wife also received Christ, the leader said.
As do Christian workers throughout the Islamic world, the local missionaries continue to pray and advise the family over the thorny issue of how to bring polygamist converts into compliance with God’s will for marriage. Workers would rather have that discipleship challenge than unredeemed souls.
“This is the type of fruit and work you get when you go and visit people in their homes, and you follow up,” the leader said. “The beautiful thing is how the kids’ ministry connected us to the parents. It’s all wonderful how God works.”
Grief amid Persecution
Leading Muslims to faith in Christ also brings the discipleship challenge of helping them to withstand persecution.
Relocating persecuted Christians is a last resort, as workers do all they can to encourage threatened converts from Islam to withstand opposition from relatives, friends and neighbors. That means standing with new Christians with emotional and spiritual support.
Recently they stood with a woman whose husband and son were killed for refusing to deny Christ.
“That is a hard thing,” the ministry leader said. “She says, ‘Every time I close my eyes, I see my husband and my son in front of me, how they killed them.’ We spend a lot of time caring and loving, to help as much as we can.”
The workers know they are making a difference when they see the steps she has made to recovery, he said.
“When she first came in, she wasn’t able to focus for a very long time, or the moment you start talking with her, she starts to cry,” he said. “Now she is more open, and she takes more time in prayer. When someone comes in to check on her and visit her, she gives them big hugs and smiles. You see more joy, and what her closeness to Jesus has brought to her.”
Local missionaries in Syria are ministering to many such people. Please consider a donation today to equip them to bring the love of Christ to hungry and hurting souls.
*Name changed for security reasons