A group of CRM partners and staff traveled together to witness the movement of God around the world first-hand. Here are the journal reflections of one of those pilgrims... (Read the previous journal entries here.)
Vision Trip Day 5: Sitting With Refugees in the Middle East
Proximity is a potent antidote: Antidote to fear. Antidote to ignorance. Antidote to indifference.
Sitting in the tent/house of a Syrian refugee family today, tears welled up in my eyes—to hear the story of them out in the fields working and coming home to find their house completely destroyed by a bomb, after trying to stick it out during the war. They then traveled two months to Lebanon and now live in this tent in a refugee camp.
We visited this family and one more and they both said they wanted to go home. My tears were from empathy. This family had six beautiful children ages six months to ten, and with a young family myself, I was imagining myself in their shoes. It’s impossible to know what they feel, but it seems so unjust. Their reality is so different from mine.
We visited another family and heard their story of coming to faith. He didn’t have enough money to pay for his papers and was in fear they would be sent back to Lebanon, so he decided to pray and ask Jesus to help him. He breezed right through and got all the signatures he needed. Then God healed his son who had begun “losing his mind” because of trauma from the war. Next his daughter, who wouldn’t eat, was healed and began eating again. This family had tremendous joy despite their living conditions. I think it’s because of their newfound faith and their experience of God’s love and protection in the midst of such adversity.
When I return home to my comfortable, Orange County California bubble I will have to figure out how to integrate my new awareness into my own reality, that is far different from this one.
Vision Trip Day 6: Movement Leaders of the Middle East
Two major themes of this trip have been Miracles and Leaders.
Every testimony we have heard from a Muslim background believer or about a Muslim coming to faith has involved either a vision of Jesus, a healing, or another experience of God intervening supernaturally. We heard one story like that in London and now many in the Middle East.
What are you up to God? It seems like the “Hound of Heaven” is after the Muslim people. Will this be the next great movement of God that we will read about in history books 30 years from now? The local ministry leader has said many times that he and his team “are just trying to keep up with what God is doing,” and that is exactly what I have witnessed. His team’s role in taking advantage of the opportunity is crucial, and God is using them. But God is the one pouring gas on the fire.
As for leaders, sorry to be a broken record, but it’s amazing the power of a leader. Today we saw Merjan* in action as she led a DBS of nearly 100 Muslim women, most of whom wore head coverings. As they discussed the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 it was amazing to hear their answers to the questions, “What do we learn about God from this passage?” and, “What do we learn about people?” Merjan facilitated this group with such strength and passion. She is a leader I would want to follow.
Then we met Immad*. I have heard many stories about him. He was an insurance salesmen that now has over 150 Discovery Bible Study groups among Syrian refugees. Just like Stu, Immad and Merjan both are leaders with amazing natural talents and a heart to be used by God. Our CRM team came alongside both of them and gave them vision to start and multiply DBS’s, then equipped and resourced them with tools to do it.
Jesus’s ministry model of investing in the 12 was very strategic: invest in a few to reach the multitudes. And that is exactly what we are seeing.
Vision Trip Day 7: The Movement of God in the Refugee Community
I looked around and everybody in our group was weeping. It was a holy moment.
We were guests at a Discovery Bible Study with roughly 30 Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
It felt like we had front row seats to God’s main event.
I took notes furiously as these powerful testimonies were shared:
- “Only in Jesus are men and women welcome.” (Muslim woman wearing a head covering)
- “Nothing can stop the Spirit of God. He took Satan out of me, and now I can’t stop reading the Bible.”
- “We need the Spirit of God to be more than just humans reaching other humans. The Spirit of God makes us different and gives us something to offer others.”
- “People look at the war as a catastrophe (in Syria), but look at us and what God is doing—hundreds coming to Christ. Don’t be angry at me, but I’m thankful for the war.”
- “I just had this thought (said with humor) that we might be better than Peter and Paul and the disciples; they never had to face ISIS or war like we have.” (Room laughs)
- “I was praying about getting baptized, and I had a vision of getting baptized, and coming out of the water and angels giving me high fives and hugs.” (Syrian teen from the same tribe of Assaad, the Aloites)
- “I was infertile (which is very shameful in Muslim culture). I came to Jesus and now I have one kid and one on the way.”
- “I thought Jesus just came to save Christians until I read John 3:16, then I realized he died for me.”
- “Tonight, in one of the final nights of Ramadan, I want to tell my family that I became a follower of Jesus and was baptized.” (A young woman who is putting herself at great risk by taking this step—the group instantly had somebody pray over her and bless her with courage and wisdom)
And that is only about 1/5 of the thoughts and testimonies that were shared that day. We finished the meeting by surrounding the group and praying for them and blessing them, and then they did the same for us. Many of them blessed us as brothers and sisters in the family of God—Syrian and Iraqi refugee Muslim Background Believers praying and ministering to us.
We all walked out of there completely overwhelmed and had the sense that we had just had a taste of heaven.
*Names have been changed
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Thrash and his wife, Jamie, live in San Juan Capistrano, CA, with their three kids. In addition to thinking deeply about living out our faith and actively following Jesus in new ways, Mark heads up CRM’s Partner Development Team.
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