This video is from our Gospel Interactions series. Gospel Interactions are the heart behind Goer ministry... demonstrating and communicating God's love, His hope, His message. Goer ministry is planting seeds and cultivating relationships while participating in the community transforming work that God is doing where Goers serve. It’s the personal touch of sharing your story of how Christ has changed your life. We call this “gospel interactions.” Gospel interactions are conversations and acts of service and love motivated by a love for Jesus and done by Goers who have moved into the neighborhood of the unreached. For more Gospel Interactions stories click here.
Today’s Gospel Interaction story is from David. David is a Goer alum that spent two years in the Middle East learning Arabic and working with Yemeni refugees, and continues to minister to immigrants in his community today.
The following is a lightly edited transcript of his story.
This story is wrapped up in the process of how God taught me more and more of what it meant to be led by the spirit in ministry work.
I think in the past, I thought of ministry work and being led by the spirit as if I would come out of my apartment and be on fire for God. My heart would be burning, and God would say these are the people that you are going to talk to today - and I would just know who they are. I imagined that I would be in this super good Jesus-loving mood. Surely, those were the days when Jesus was going to use me.
Lord whatever you're doing to build your kingdom in this place today, let me be a part of that.
But I started to realize that being led by the spirit really meant that I would start my morning in the Lord's presence and then have an openness to him afterward, saying ‘Lord whatever you're doing to build your kingdom in this place today, let me be a part of that.’ I had to trust that that was the reality, whether or not my mood was about it that day.
One time I saw this really clearly. I woke up at probably around 5 am because that's when the Muslim call to prayer would go off. When that happens, I’d be jolted out of my sleep once again very aware that I’m not living in a Christian country, I’m not where I’m normally comfortable. That can be kinda jarring some days.
I remember sitting with the Lord that morning, already grouchy, already tired, and slugging through the heat to the subway station. The subway is crowded that day, and my nose is in some dude's armpit that I don't even know.
It's just one of those days for me when living overseas isn’t fun, it's not an adventure. It's just sweaty. And you think to yourself, man, what is life today? This day was one of those days. I wasn't feeling like a super missionary. I was barely feeling human.
I wasn't feeling like a super missionary. I was barely feeling human.
I'm on the metro, and I'm going to an Arabic class at 8 am. I love Arabic, but I still don't want to study it at 8 am. My stop is coming up. There is a phrase you use in Arabic to signal that your stop was coming. You say “nazil algay” which lets them know “I'm getting off soon.” Then, the guys in front of you would usually start to clear a path, and everybody would queue up at the door and you'd be good to go.
I said the phrase and the guy in the way looked at me and didn't move. So I say it again. Then, in really broken English, the man says, “Where are you from?”
I had been in the country for like over a year at this point, so I'm thinking ‘dude, I know my Arabic is not that bad at this point… please just let me off the train.’ The doors open and I brush past the guy. I'm not looking to practice English this day. But as soon as I got off the train, I felt the Lord convict me and say to me, ‘David. that guy obviously wasn't from here.’ And I think ‘You’re right Lord. I’ll tell you what, if I see him again, I'll talk to him.’
I put my head down and started walking up the steps. As I'm walking up the steps staring at my feet so that I don't see anyone, I feel somebody come up right next to me. Soon, this person was walking right next to me. I look up and sure enough, it's that same guy from the subway.
I started to talk to him in Arabic and asked him how he was doing and where he was from. It turns out that he was from the same country as the refugee population that I was serving in the city and he was actually a refugee from that country himself. As we were chatting, I said “Oh well I really love your country and the people from it are just really kind. Why don't we get coffee?’”
I scheduled a coffee appointment with him and we met up a few days later at a cafe. As we sat there talking, he found out I was a Christian and he began to tell me how interesting he thought Christians were and how much he wanted to read the Injeel - which is what they call the Bible in a Muslim context. We met up again, and this time I brought him a Bible. I said, “Hey, if I gave you a Bible would you read it?,” and he answered yes, so I got the Bible out of my bag and I gave it to him.
To this day, I have still never seen anyone so excited to get a Bible!
To this day, I have still never seen anyone so excited to get a Bible! He almost jumped out of his chair. “David, this is amazing! You have no idea,” he said. “I have been searching bookstores in the city for days and days trying to find the Injeel, and I haven't been able to find it. But now you have given me one. This is the best gift ever.”
It was such a cool thing to be a part of. I didn't plan that. It literally fell into my lap on a day that I was probably the worst missionary ever. So the thing I always try to tell people is that it’s less and less about doing the right strategies. Although it is important to have a good framework for what you're trying to do, the biggest thing is to just be abiding with the Lord and making yourself available to Him.