There’s been a bunch of cool stories that have happened the last while that I haven’t written on here yet.
I thought I’d write out a few of them in one post. Here we go:
I had over-booked myself one evening. I had supper with some friends scheduled at 5pm, and a meeting at 6pm which I needed to attend in a different part of the city, about half-an-hour away by bus. I knew I needed to leave the meal early, but one friend was telling some amazing testimonies of what Jesus had done in his life, so I didn’t leave until well after I should have.
Because I still wanted to get to my meeting on time, I ended up grabbing a taxi (much cheaper here than in Canada, and much faster than the bus), and was able to greatly shorten my travel time to the next meeting.
While we were driving, I got talking to my taxi driver. Cool guy. Used to work in the tech industry, but when a market crash happened, he lost his job, and has been a taxi driver ever since. We chatted about the economy, work, family, and a bunch of stuff like that. We ended up chatting until about half way to my meeting, then the conversation faded after that. I was enjoying watching the city as we drove, when I had a thought. Now, when I have this thought, I try to pay extra attention to it, because I find more often than not, it’s not a thought from myself, but it’s Jesus is trying to get my attention.
The thought was, “Man, it’d be cool if this guy had an encounter with Jesus.”
I took that thought as Holy Spirit trying to get my attention, so I asked, “Jesus, how do you want to move in this guy’s life? What do you want to do?”
As I prayed, I looked at the guy, and felt like Holy Spirit highlighted his shoulder to me.
So I asked the guy, “Hey dude, weird question, is there a problem in your shoulder?”
Driver: “In my shoulder??” my driver responded.
Me: “Yeah, yours”
Driver: “Yeah, my shoulder is messed up. Because of all the driving and gear shifting I do, I often have pain in my shoulder. Why do you ask?”
Me: “Well, Jesus’ Spirit lives inside of me, and He speaks to me, and I felt like He told me you had that problem. Do you want the problem to leave?”
Driver: “Uhhh, yeah… how?”
Me: “I’ll pray, and Jesus will heal you”
Driver: “I’m a Muslim, there’s only one God (Allah), and He’s great”
Me: “I know, I know. Do you want to be well?”
Driver: “uhh, yeah”
Me: “Ok watch”
Prayed for him. Told his shoulder to be restored in Jesus name. Thanked Jesus that He loves this guy, died for him to be set free. And thanked Jesus for healing.
Driver: “Thank you, bless you.”
Me: “You’re welcome. How is it?”
Driver: “wait what?”
Me: “It’s good now, hey?”
Driver: “Uhhh. yeah. this is really weird”
Me: “Yeah man. Want to know why that happened?”
Driver: “Of course”
So, I explained to him about Jesus. About how He came, and healed everyone who was sick. And how He died as a sacrifice to set us free from sin and its effects in our lives. And how He sent His Spirit to live inside of those who follow Him, and commanded them to do the same things He did.
Driver: “Wow man. That’s really cool”
Me: “Yeah man”
Shortly after this, we had arrived where my meeting was happening, and I was late. I gave him some contact info so he could follow up if he wanted, paid him for the ride, and headed out.
One of the churches some of my friends attend here has a table in their meeting area where people who are moving or wanting to get rid of old stuff can leave books, movies, posters, etc. so that others can have them for free. There are some awesome things I’m come across different times I’ve visited.
This time around, I found a really beautiful bible in a language of a nearby country. Ever the language nerd that I am (and the Bible nerd/collector/hoarder), I decided to take it home with me for if I ever decided to do a deep dive and learn some of the language sometime.
After we left church, my friends decided they wanted to stop by Starbucks to grab a drink before they went home. I’m not a huge Starbucks fan, and I was even less of a fan of the 30+ person lineup that my friend was waiting in, so I found an empty seat near the coffee bar and sat down. I had the Bible sitting on the counter beside me, when security guard for the Starbucks came up to me.
Guard: Is this a Quran?
Me: No, sir. It’s a Bible.
Guard: A what?
Me: A Bible. The stories of Abraham, Moses, David, the other prophets, and the Good News of Jesus.
Guard: Ohh, a Bible. Hmm… you said this has the stories of Jesus in here?
He opens it up, starts paging through it, and realizes it’s not in his language.
Guard: I can’t read any of this.
Me: Yeah, it’s not in our language. It’s the language of a country in Central Asia.
Guard: Oh too bad. You don’t have it in my language do you?
Me: Not with me… but I do at home. Why do you ask? Would you like to read it?
Guard: Man, if you had an extra would, I’d love to read the stories of Jesus.
Me: I think that can be arranged.
We exchanged contact info, and then I quickly ran back to the church, grabbed a couple New Testaments, and brought it back to him.
He was excited, and said he’d start reading it right away. He said he’s been wanting to know about Jesus and the stories in the New Testament for a while now.
Friday is my fast day with 10 Year Fast. I had gone to the gym for a light workout, and was on my way back home, walking up one of the steep, tall hills my city is known for. About half way up the hill, there’s a mosque. Friday is also the day that mosques have their weekly meetings, so there was a message being shared by the Imam inside the mosque, and a few people hanging out around the outside of the mosque, within earshot so they could still hear everything.
One guy saw me walking up the hill and waved to me. I was sweaty, disheveled, exhausted, and honestly, not super excited for a chat with anyone. This guy, however, stops me part way up the hill and starts chatting with me. “Hey, how’s it going? nice day hey? Oh you’re good? That’s good. I’m sick.”
I chatted with him a little, told him “Get well soon” for his sickness, and told him I had a thing I needed to get to so I could leave (truth was, I just wanted to get home so I could sit down).
The guy seemed like he wanted to talk more, so I gave him my number so he could do that.
A short time later, he tried to call me. I was actually in the middle of something at that point, so I couldn’t chat with him. After I was done, I called him, and the conversation went something along these lines:
Him: Hey how’s it going?
Me: I’m good, how are you?
Him: I’m sick
Me: I’m sorry to hear that. Get well soon.
Him: … Hey, are you Muslim?
Me: No, I follow Jesus. Jesus is my Lord. I’m a Christian.
Him: Huh… ok…
Him: Can you pray for me?
Me: wait, what?
Him: I told you, I’m sick. Can you pray for me to be healed?
Me: Uhhh, yeah! I guess? Sure! You want me to pray for you right now?
Him: Yeah. Do it.
Me: Okay then!
So, I prayed for him right there on the phone. He was really grateful. And when I talked to him the following day, he said he was feeling better.
I’ve been thinking about these stories, and the many other things that my friends have experienced in the last few months… And it makes me pause in awe.
For the majority of the last 1300 years, there was basically no desire amongst Muslims to follow Jesus as their Lord, or really any interest in anything that His followers had to offer. (Read this post for more on that)
These stories, and the other things that God has been doing around here lately, illustrate to me something that has been on my heart for a long time, but is becoming more and more evident every day:
When we pray, He moves.
And maybe even more applicably, true fruitfulness in life and ministry isn’t linked to how hard we work or how organized our programs are.
It’s completely and totally linked to Him.
Him, softening people’s hearts that have been hardened by centuries of politicized religious arguments and wars.
Him, giving a curiosity about the Bible to a middle aged security guard who probably had never met a follower of Jesus before.
Him, healing a taxi driver who didn’t ask for it and didn’t see it coming, but who ended up being so thankful for it.
Him, drawing this guy to the Jesus followers walking up his street, knowing that a Jesus encounter was in store for him through it.
None of these stories had to do with me. In fact, as you’ll see, it was sometimes in spite of me. All the good stuff that happened had to do with Jesus. And, I believe, it had to do with Him responding to us seeking Him.
As I’m writing this, the 10 Year Fast has been running for 320 days. In that time, we’ve seen significantly more people give their lives to Jesus than we did in the first several years living in the Middle East, and God has given more and more crazy opportunities for us to share the love of Jesus through.
There’s an organization here in the country that has been responsible for leading about half of the Jesus followers in the country to relationship with . They’ve been ministering in the country for the last 30 years. We recently talked to the founder and director of the program. He said that God seems to be moving more this year than he has never seen in his 30 years here. He also said that this year he has heard more amazing stories and heard more amazing testimonies. They’re having thousands of people contacting them, requesting Bibles and wanting to meet someone that can talk to them about Jesus.
I believe what we’re seeing is directly connected to the fact that there are people around the world praying and fasting without ceasing to see Jesus move in the Muslim world.
So often, I think we make all of this a lot more confusing than it needs to be.
Jesus made it pretty clear:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
So, let’s keep asking!