Near East (OM) — It can get frustrating and disappointing when results don’t show up immediately. This might happen in a job, in school, or even in a relationship.
How many times have you given up on something because it was taking too long?
A lot of times, people give up on sharing the Word with a person or a group because they’ve refused to listen for such a long time. But, even if they ignore God’s Word for a few days, a few months, or a few years, it doesn’t mean God’s Word is having no impact.
Operation Mobilization’s Nicole James shares the story of a Near East missionary, who was tempted to give up, but fortunately didn’t.
*Timothy was discouraged. For the past couple of months, he and the other young single men on his team had been hosting a weekly dinner for their local friends. That night, feast prepared, he had called and called the local guys he knew–people he hoped were open to the Gospel, but no one had answered.
Earlier that day, Timothy had also seen a Facebook post from another local, warning his friends about the missionaries in the city wanting to evangelise youth.
Finally, hoping to not waste his team’s culinary efforts, Timothy phoned *Hamid, a neighbour down the street. Hamid had once shown spiritual interest, watching an entire DVD series explaining the Gospel with Timothy and his team. But after falling for an Arab girl, Hamid had suddenly launched back into Islam, attending the mosque and sprinkling his speech with sayings intended to ward off evil spirits.
“When it was only him coming for dinner that night…and the people I invited just didn’t answer my phone calls, and after reading this comment [on Facebook], I was like, ‘Why are we here?’” Timothy remembered.
Even though Hamid had gone from “incredible spiritual interest to nothing,” Timothy and his team still saw him at least once a week. *Jared, one of the other young men on Timothy’s team, shared one of the conversations he’d had with Hamid a few weeks before that night’s dinner.
The two young men had been discussing future plans, when Hamid, out of the blue, asked Jared, “How would you react if I became a Christian?” Jared asked what he meant and told Hamid that being a Christian didn’t mean becoming like him and Timothy, but rather that Christianity imitated Jesus Himself.
Jared had also taken other opportunities to tell Hamid how God had provided for the various needs in his life and talked about his assurance of salvation through Jesus.
Still, when Hamid showed up to dinner that night, Timothy wasn’t happy. “The only guy coming over is a guy we had so much hope for, and he’s been such a disappointment,” he thought.
Despite Timothy’s misgivings, he said the dinner went well. Hamid left after the meal, but he returned to the apartment a while later. Sitting in the living room, Hamid turned to Timothy and said, “Okay, I’m ready to become a Christian. What should I be doing? Reading the Bible? Praying?”
Timothy, wanting to gauge Hamid’s motivations–his question coming after a year of no spiritual interest–shared his testimony. So did two other foreigners who were staying with Timothy.
The next morning, Hamid and Timothy talked for another four hours. As they were discussing prayer, Hamid told Timothy, “That’s what I love about Christianity. You can pray to God about whatever you want, whatever you’re doing.” Timothy read Matthew chapters five through seven with Hamid, looking at what Jesus’ teachings on prayer, fasting and giving alms—“how a Christian generously gives from himself to God without being a hypocrite, without it being [only] religion,” Timothy said.
The next week, Hamid watched a sermon on DVD with Timothy, an hour-long account from another Muslim-Background Believer (MBB). “An hour is a long time to sit in front of a screen and watch a sermon, but he was captivated,” Timothy remembered. “Any time this guy didn’t understand a concept, he would stop it and say, ‘What are the sacrifices? Who are the Pharisees?’”
At one point, Timothy left the room. When he returned, Hamid was explaining the video to the other guy in the room, a foreigner who didn’t speak Arabic. “Not only was he watching and listening, he was also able to explain,” Timothy said. “With all the difficulties, with all the disillusionments, it’s amazing how one conversation can change your attitude and make you thankful again for being out here.”
Ask yourself if you’ve given up on sharing God’s Word with someone. If you have, keep praying and keep telling the Gospel. Take it from Timothy: it’s not too late!