I’ve mentioned the discipleship program I work with a few times. Some of the coolest things I’ve seen thus far since I got here have been directly connected with the students of the program. This story is no exception.
Of the 9 students we had in the program this year, two came from a much different environment than the rest. While many of the students are only first or second generation Christians (either they were Muslim and they came to Jesus, or their parents were Muslim, and they came to Jesus, causing the rest of the family (kids included) to turn as well), these two came from villages who have been historically Christian in one form or another for almost as long as Christianity has existed. Their villages are in a small pocket of the country where their people have lived and followed their orthodox traditions for roughly 1700 years. They have an amazing and unique history.
One of the students, we’ll call Markos, came up to me about 3 months ago and asked, “Hey man, do you have some time to chat?”
“Of course!” I said. We went and grabbed tea in the bakery connected to the school.
“So, I went back to my village last week, and was telling them about the amazing things we’ve been seeing here. The refugee ministry we’re doing, the homeless ministry, the Bible classes at the school… And I also told them some of the stories of the healings and miracles we’ve been seeing. Some of my friends had never heard anything like those stories happening anywhere but in the Bible. They were excited and interested, and wanted to learn more. They wanted to know if there was a possibility that the next time I came home, if I could bring someone who was seeing some of these cool God things happening, so they could meet and pray for some of the people in the village… So, I was thinking about it, and was wondering… do you want to go to my village and share with the people, and pray for some of them, and see what God wants to do?”
I thought about it for a moment, asked the Lord, looked at Markos, and said, “YES! Most definitely, yes!!”
“Ok… The next time we have a break from class, we’ll make it happen!”
>> Fast forward 2.5 months >>
Markos and I hop onto the 16 hour bus ride to the city near his village, and then the 30 min car ride from that city to his village. We get there, and we’re both thoroughly exhausted, but we decided to get right into it. What followed was one of the craziest and most enjoyable weekends I’ve had in a while, so I could write for pages and pages about everything, but I’m going to try to keep it to just highlights for sake of length!
So, we get to Markos’ home, meet his family, and have a quick cup of coffee. As we’re sitting, Markos’ grandpa (this sweetest of old men, who I’m sure is like 92 years old or so) asks me if I can pray for his eyes, because he’s been experiencing clouding. We pray, and there’s no visible change, but he was very thankful.
Later, Markos and I started walking around his village a bit. Met some of the locals, and chatted briefly. As we were walking, I had felt in my spirit that this village was called to be a light to the region. Markos’ village is in a part of the country which is very close to a lot of the events of which you’ve probably seen in the news over the last few months; I felt like the people there were called to be a light and a hope to the people around, both by being a place of refuge, housing and feeding those they’re able to, and also by sharing the hope of Jesus with those who come.
Eventually, we found a park bench and ended up sitting down. I shared what I was feeling with Markos, but got interrupted part way through, as a man on a tractor was driving by and waving at us. Markos said, “Just one sec. Let’s meet this guy and you can finish sharing that after.”
We went over and chatted with the man. Shortly into our discussion, he asked if we wanted to come to his house and drink tea with him. We said yes, and hopped on the back of his tractor to ride to his house. While we’re riding, I finish sharing the word with Markos. As I finish Markos says, “That’s really solid. You should share that with this man when we sit down for tea with him. He’s one of the leaders of the village, and is one of the ones that could bring about that kind of thing in the village.”
So we get to his place, meet some of his family and see his animals, and sit down with him while his daughter makes us tea. As we’re sitting, we begin talking about what life is like in the area of world we’re in (War, religious and racial discrimination, etc), and I end up sharing the word about his village being a light and a help to the rest of the region.
After I share, the man launches into a few minutes of stating why their village can’t do that. They’re too small. Not enough resources. The need is too big. It’s much better for people to make their way to Europe, where they can get real help, instead of waiting around here.
I didn’t want to argue, or push, so I just said, “Okay”. I learned years ago that when sharing a word from God for someone, it’s our responsibility to deliver the message. What people do with it is their responsibility. So, we moved on in the conversation. Shortly after, two of his sons come out and sit with us. Markos, excited to share what Jesus is doing in our church, school, and city, so he starts sharing a couple of testimonies from a few months ago. All three were really interested, and afterwards one of the sons said, “Hey, I’ve got this weird pain in my head. It keeps bouncing around to different parts of my head. Could you pray for me?”
“Of course!” We pray, and ask how he is.
He turns his head a bit, gives a big smile, and says, “Weird!!!! It doesn’t hurt!!”
“Yeah man! 🙂 Jesus loves you!”
“Awesome! Thank you!”
At that same time, I felt Holy Spirit tell me that the father had some pain in his back and in his arm. I asked, and sure enough he did, so we prayed and Jesus healed him too. Right after he got healed, he began looking very pensive, deep in thought about something.
He then turned towards me and asked, “So, about that word you gave about our town being a light. Tell me more. What do you see God wanting to do here?”
God’s loving power, in the midst of doubt and fear, had melted this guy’s heart so he was then willing to give up on those doubts and fears, and listen to what God wanted to do in and through his village.
At another point, we had a worship, scripture reading, and prayer time. When we were done praying, a bunch of the villagers who had heard that we wanted to pray for healing came up, and we prayed for them. At one point, Markos’ mother came, and we prayed for her. She had a bunch of problems, in her throat, fingers, and elbow, some of which she could feel on a regular basis, and some of which only came about once in a while.
So, Markos and I prayed for her. When we finished praying, there was such a peace in the room that we just sat and waited for a while in Jesus’ presence. While we waited, I felt Holy Spirit saying that God had given Markos’ mom a the ability to teach people well, and that she was called to do that to glorify Him, which I shared with her. I also felt that there was something going on in her knees, so I asked, “hey, anything going on in your knees?”
She moved around a bit, adjusted her position (we were both kneeling), and said, “Actually… normally yes, but not anymore?”
“What do you mean?” I replied?
“Whenever I kneel like this, I have a sharp pain in my knee. It’s all the time when I’m kneeling [which, in the village is A LOT]. But, since you guys started praying, it doesn’t hurt at all! Thank you! Thanks Jesus!”
There was lots more cool stuff that happened when Markos and I were over in his village. We got to minister to people in a 1600 year old monastery. I got to prophecy over groups of 15-20 people, sharing God’s heart for them, for their village, and for the region, and got to pray with dozens of people and see many of them healed.
The point of all this: God is stirring something among the Christian minority groups in the Middle East. There are plenty of groups, with traditions going back to just a few decades after Christ, but who are too afraid or hateful towards their neighbors of other faiths to reach out to them and share Jesus with them. In many cases, that fear and hatred has merit, as these same Christians been hunted and killed in the thousands and millions in recent years. Still though, our command is to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.
So I’d ask of you, pray for the Christian minority groups in the Middle East. Pray for boldness to show Jesus’ love to those around them, and that the revival that’s stirring in their villages and churches would come to fulfillment; that thousands and thousands would come to Jesus because of His people’s love.
It’s His heart; let’s pursue it.