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In a North African village, steeped in traditions passed down through generations, men and women sit together and talk freely, their rural location a barrier from outside influence. None of them know Jesus.
Romans 10:14 asks: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (ESV)
On a recent trip to this rural North African village, Lucy*, a worker living the region, watched the people prepare tea and bread using traditional techniques. Their host, a Muslim man from this people group, told Lucy there was no Bible in this people group’s unique language.
Though daily routines have allowed the people to survive, they are still living without the healing power of God’s love.
“When we were there, my heart just broke to see the unreached people,” Lucy said. “There’s no one, no local church. No one that could tell them.”
Although Lucy and her team prayed for an opportunity to share God’s love during their visit, they never got a chance. Discouraged, they left, with a heavy burden to continue praying for the people.
A few days later, while visiting ancient ruins with the same man from the village, the group found a cross-shaped baptismal area inside an ancient church.
Reversing roles, the man asked Lucy’s group, “What does baptism mean?”
As the others on the team went off to pray, Lucy and another OM worker began to share truth with this man.
“When someone is baptized, it’s a statement of saying, ‘I’m laying down my old life,’” Lucy told the guide. “For me, it’s not about religion, it’s about relationship.”
Starting in Genesis, they explained how God’s perfect relationship with Adam and Eve was broken, and how Christ died and paid the price to repair that relationship with God.
The local man responded that Muslims do not believe Jesus died. Lucy continued to explain how the four books of the Gospel—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—contain separate accounts of what happened, all four written by different people who walked with Jesus.
Surprisingly, the man told Lucy he had heard about the Gospel of Mark. In fact, he had started reading it but was unable to finish because the book belonged to a friend.
“That was a very interesting book,” he said.
“Did you know you can download it from the Internet for free?” Lucy asked.
“Really? I didn’t know that,” he said.
She showed him a website on her phone where he could download the book of Mark and the other gospels in Arabic.
“I only realized this later on; even though I felt so discouraged about this people group, one person in this people group has been reached,” Lucy said.
In this North African country, people are broken from decades of conflict and losses, Lucy said. The question is not if they lost somebody in the conflict, but who.
“Deep down inside, the pain and hurt is so real, and [the people] don’t know what to do with it. Pain turns to bitterness, anger, and rebellion. This is where Satan has now got a stronghold in people’s life,” Lucy said. True restoration, however, will only come through Christ.
Nicole James loves sharing stories from the field of faith in action. She is currently visiting the Middle East on a vision trip and plans to return to the field to participate in a communications internship for OM Middle East North Africa.
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