Death Threats and the Water of Life

20 Sep

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“I realize now that coming here was the beginning of my redemption.”

Ramiz (not his real name) was deeply opposed to al-Qaida and Isis. As a resident of a town in the Middle East, he partnered with the US military as a translator in the heat of war. This work put him and his family at risk, and the Americans moved him to a new location where he would not be recognized. While working with a forward special forces unit, he survived an ambush. One of his friends on the patrol was blown up right in front of him, and Ramiz bears the scars of shrapnel from that encounter.

Eventually, a leading terrorist organization found out about Ramiz’s involvement and posted a blood-stained death threat on the door of his home: We know who you are, we know what you’re doing, and if you don’t stop, we’ll murder you and your whole family. Ramiz immediately went into hiding, and was put on the “fast track” to refuge in the United States, along with his family.

Four years later Ramiz’s little family stepped onto US soil. They were picked up at the airport by a local pastor, part of a group from their little church-plant of 80 people that had decided to serve as sponsors for refugees. They brought Ramiz back to the apartment they had furnished for his family, and spent time in the next few days to help him acclimate.

Ramiz was quick to open up with the pastor helping his family, talking to him about his prophets and how much he disliked the jihadists.

“My prophet tells me that if I can make three people smile in one day, then I’m a good man.”

The pastor noticed the open door to talk about spirituality and walked through it. “Well, my prophet teaches us that we should treat people the way we want them to treat us.”

“Ah, the golden rule. I know the golden rule, and I like it. I know of your Jesus too. He’s in the Koran. And I like your Jesus.” While Ramiz had had many American friends in the military, he had never seen a New Testament, read a Bible, or heard anything about Jesus beyond what the Koran said.

“You know,” Ramiz continued, “I had a dream the other night, right after I got here. I dreamed that I was standing on top of a mountain, and I looked down into a valley. It was filled with flowers and was beautiful. I walked down into the valley, and found a well there. I drew a pail of water from the well and I tasted it, and it was the best tasting water I’d ever tasted. So I looked up to heaven and I said, ‘Whose well is this?’ And a voice said, ‘This well belongs to my son, Jesus.’ So I drew another pail of water and poured it over my head, and over my whole body, because I wanted to be covered by this water that belonged to Jesus.”

Ramiz looked at the pastor as if to ask, “What does it all mean?”

“You realize that you just dreamed a passage out of the New Testament,” said the pastor, amazed.

“I’ve never read the New Testament; tell me about it.”

So the pastor shared the story of the woman at the well, and through that shared the gospel.

Ramiz listened intently, and at the end of the conversation, responded, “So, I realize now that coming here was the beginning of my redemption.”

Ramiz continues to have conversations with his Christian sponsors, and continues to be spiritually open. But he isn’t the only one in this story whose heart has opened to God in new ways.

A CRM staff person connected to Ramiz’s sponsors had begun to pray that the Muslims coming would have dreams and visions of Jesus at the exact time of Ramiz’s arrival in America and subsequent dream. He stands amazed at the immediate answer to his prayers, and the spiritual openness in Ramiz that they haven’t seen yet in any of the other Muslims they have served.

The small group that welcomed Ramiz had been brought into this work with refugees through CRM. Their church had never done anything like that before. There was a general fear of Muslims and terrorists in the congregation. But that shifted dramatically because of what they witnessed God doing in Ramiz’s life, right in their midst. It ignited a new fire in the congregation, not only in the small group that personally sponsored Ramiz, but the entire group of 80 people. They went from being lukewarm—only serving because it was something the pastor wanted them to do—to having personal vision to work face-to-face with Muslims. They are actively pursuing sponsoring more Muslim refugee families, excited for what God could do.

Ramiz’s relationship with the families who sponsor him has grown very deep. He goes on and on about what they have meant to him and his family. A Discovery Bible Study to explore more stories of Jesus might be the next step. One thing is certain: God is on the move. He is responding to the prayers of his people, revealing himself in supernatural ways to those who’ve never heard the gospel, and empowering his followers to overcome fears and share his love.

 

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ABOUT: This story comes from a CRM staff person with ChurchNEXT, which serves in a variety of ways to mobilize the Church for mission.


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