On a Sunday, as is often our team’s practice, my teammate and I went to a local refugee church with which we have a relationship to drop off some grocery store gift cards to the pastor, so that he could give them to refugee families in need.
Prior to meeting with us, the pastor asked us to sit in the back of the sanctuary while he led the opening time of prayer and began praise and worship. After leading us in a time of corporate prayer and beginning the time of worship through song, he led us into the dining area to have conversation.
He began telling us about all of the ways God had been working in his small congregation. That day the weather was really bad, so only about half of the congregation was in attendance, but he said that only two of the 15 in attendance that day had been a believer for more than two months! That means that God is doing something in this city!
He went on to tell us the story of Khaled, a nice guy who had been sitting directly in front of us while we were in the sanctuary. Khaled had somehow gotten the pastor’s number and texted him one day several months ago.
Khaled told him that he needed to hear about Jesus, so the pastor went to meet Khaled and tell him about the Lord. While he was there for his first visit, the pastor learned that Khaled was an active member of an internationally-known group that has been in the news in America for the past several years. This group is known for its hatred toward followers of Christ.
After meeting with Khaled two or three times at Khaled’s request, the pastor gave him time to consider the gospel message he was so certain he needed to hear. Khaled eventually realized he had been following a lie and turned from that lie to become a follower of the Truth.
Once Khaled began attending their fellowship, another believer in the fellowship, who is also a former member of the same dangerous group, was afraid that the pastor had been deceived because he said that Khaled was a man of authority in the group. In fact, the pastor learned that Khaled once had more than 2,000 men under his command!
Khaled was not deceiving anyone, however, and that fact quickly became apparent. Although he was once of man of wealth, authority, and no doubt even a certain level of prestige within his own circle, he now gladly lives his life as a worker on a local garbage truck. He has shown the pastor text messages from his former group that are offering him more money and power if he will return and rejoin them in another country, but he tells the pastor that he does not need any of that anymore. Those things used to be what he thought he needed, but now he says he has everything he will ever need in Jesus Christ.
As we stood downstairs in the dining room talking to the pastor, we could hear the congregation upstairs, comprised of no less than two former members of that dangerous group and one from another similar group, singing in loud voices praises to their Savior King!
God is saving the people who we would often consider to be the most unsaveable people in the world! Let that be encouragement to you as you see the brokenness of the world nearest to you and throughout the world. Don’t stop sharing the Truth and don’t stop praying!