If you haven’t downloaded the free kindle book called Missionary Heroes by Masterson, I encourage you to do that today and read the stories to your family. My friend Max told me about it and it has been challenging me for a week now.
I read about Archibald Forder who left England with his wife to travel to parts of the Arab desert who had not yet had the Gospel in 1890. You can read about how he risked his life in deserts before murderous tribes as he courageously read out loud to them the New Testament in cities where the NewTestament in Arabic had never been. He confounded sheiks and warriors, saw few converts, but pioneered areas on camel and horse as his family waited for his return in old Jerusalem.
I read about Raymond Lull who in the 1300’s made converts in ancient Carthage of tunisia until he was martyred as an old man. He, like Archibold, learned the Arabic language and culture preaching Christ and his love to the heathen who had never faced such spiritual truth with the weakness of he sword. Lull tells stories of carrying the Gospel in Arabic to areas that had never been enlightened with the Gospel and to ears that had never considered such words.
On Wednesday of last week I was traveling by car with my friend Morad to disciple three new believers who had believed in Christ just this year. On the road we saw a man waiting for a ride so we stopped. Arabs have a culture of favors that is centuries old. If you are my guest in my car or house, I am officially your protector and you are officially in my debt. So picking up an Arab on the side of the road when he is in a position of need opens up the door for me to speak with boldness about Christ as he is obliged to listen and give me space to talk and teach which he might not do otherwise. So the ministry to this hitchhiker AbdeSamad continued.
I asked our new guest in the back seat many questions about his family and his life. He appeared to be in his mid thirties and was recently married. After exchanging pleasentries I asked him, “Have you ever met a Christian before?” The reply was as expected since I’ve asked many here in North Africa this same question: “No. Never.” “Well,” I replied, “We will be the first, then.” Morad had to do the expected work of explaining to our new hearer that he was both a native of this country AND a Christian. This task always takes a rather lengthy exchange of incredulous a d repetitive questions to convince.
We spent the next 30 minutes or so explaining the wisdom of the Gospel to this poor man armed only with the foolish recitations of the Koran to defend himself from this love of God. He did his best repeating lines that he had heard but admitting that he had never heard such a message as this. We left him with a New Testament as we dropped him off with many thanks exchanged for the ride and the gift.
The following day I was in the home of a Soussi Berber (a native tribe from the edge of the desert) with my family having a Bible study. After we finished a friend of his came over who was as dark as night. I could only focus in the white of his eyes as they stood in contrast to his skin. His clothes were long and loose and he appeared to e in his 60’s. I found out that he was from a Bedouin tribe in the desert that crosses between Morocco, Mauritania, and Mali known as the Walad Zayam. They are a brother tribe to the Tuareg, he explained. I gave him a New Testament and the story was the same: it was the first one he had ever held.
Reading the stories of the old missionaries I realized that while the mode of transportation and comfortability has greatly improved in the Arab world,the job is still the same. The situation is not much better in many cities as it was 100 years ago. Still millions of Muslims live in cities where they have no practical chance of ever meeting a Christian, receiving a New Testament, or hearing the Gospel. Where are the army of missionaries focused on this task? If you are in Bible college or seminary or working a job as you serve in your church, would you consider moving your life to a place where you would be the first Christian for the locals to meet? Would you come join the task with your family that Christ has called us to?