I clearly recall the first time I invited a neighbor to my house to study the Bible with me. We had just moved to a new village, and I wanted desperately to share the Good News.
My heart pounded as I hurried to answer the door when Hoda arrived. I’d been praying fervently for God to move in her heart during our time in His Word.
“Welcome. Come in,” I greeted her.
She returned my smile, stepped inside, and slipped off her dusty shoes.
I led her to the living room and opened my Bible. My voice rose in excitement, and I had to temper it as we took turns reading the first two chapters of Genesis.
MY HEART LEAPED. I COULDN’T WAIT TO HEAR WHAT SHE HAD DISCOVERED IN THE BIBLE.
When we finished, Hoda appeared deep in thought. I held my breath, waiting to see what insights the Lord had given her.
Slowly, she nodded. “I see now.”
My heart leaped. I couldn’t wait to hear what she had discovered in the Bible.
“I see why you Westerners wear so few clothes. It’s because Adam and Eve were naked in your holy book.”
My stomach sank. Apparently, Hoda had learned nothing about God from our reading.
Refusing to give up, I continued to read the Bible with Hoda, but at the end of each study, she had the same lackluster response and never seemed to move closer to following Jesus.
I PRAYED THAT WE WOULD FIND PEOPLE EAGER TO RESPOND TO THE GOSPEL IN OUR NEW HOME.
A few years after first meeting with Hoda, my husband and I moved to a big city in a different country. I was discouraged that my efforts hadn’t produced any fruit in Hoda, but I prayed that we would find people eager to respond to the Gospel in our new home.
Once again, however, I struggled to connect with someone eager to follow Jesus.
One day a flood swept through the streets of our city, trapping me at work. Most of my coworkers managed to make it home, but I lived too far away to return safely.
When it became evident that I was going to be stuck in the building overnight, I put my head down on my desk and groaned.
“Is someone still here?”
I jumped at the voice of my colleague Najat. “I can’t make it home. How about you?”
She shrugged and pulled up a chair across from mine. “I guess we’re going to be here for a while.”
BRIMMING WITH JOY, I SHARED HOW MUCH JESUS LOVES US.
We talked for hours, and our conversation turned from inconsequential things to personal matters, including faith.
“I follow Jesus,” I shared.
“Really?” She raised an eyebrow. “Tell me what that means.”
Brimming with joy, I shared how much Jesus loves us. But after I’d shared the Gospel, Najat promptly changed the subject.
Again, discouragement wormed its way into my heart. Would anyone in our new home want to know how much Jesus truly loved them?
Years later, long after I’d lost touch with Najat, God surprised me with His answer.
When I arrived at work one morning, my friends and coworkers were abuzz about something they’d read on the internet. A popular Muslim blogger had published an article claiming true submission to God meant following Jesus.
SHE IS SHINING THE LIGHT OF CHRIST AND SHARING THE GOOD NEWS.
Our community couldn’t stop talking about it, so I sat down at my computer to read it. I nearly dropped the cup of tea I was drinking when I discovered that the author was my former colleague Najat!
She had decided to follow Jesus because of our conversations.
A few years later, decades after my very first discouraging Bible study with Hoda, I met up with a field worker now living in our old village. She told me about developing a wonderful friendship with a Muslim-background believer.
Much to my surprise and delight, this believer was Hoda. She had told the fieldworker that she followed Jesus because of our Bible studies together, and now she is shining the light of Christ and sharing the Good News with her village.
After 30 years on the field, my family and I have had countless conversations with Muslims about Jesus. We don’t always get to see what the Holy Spirit is doing in people’s hearts or witness the results of the seeds we’ve planted, but God is faithful to use even our imperfect efforts to draw Muslim men and women to Himself.