First off, the God we serve is crazy. The way he loves and responds and communicates to us is not only extremely creative but heart warming in the deepest sense. This week I have struggled with how God answers prayer- specifically, my prayer. There were a few times this week when I prayed for something in faith, to receive no response. However, in each of those times, someone else has come along and prayed the exact same thing, and there was an instant answer. This has caused me to doubt why my prayers seem to be ineffective.
One thing I have asked God this last week was to have one student make a commitment for him. I prayed all week, but Thursday rolled around and no one, to my knowledge had any sort of heart change. I really struggled with that. I had prayed the right prayers, with the right amount of faith, so why no answer?
Then Thursday we went to a cell group of some local friends. The room the seventy people meet in is as small as my bedroom, but the amount of heart behind those four walls is enough to fill heaven. There was this one young man, dressed in a nice suit with the bottom of his pant’s rolled up exposing his bare feet which were dancing and jumping. His smile, which was overflowing with a beautiful melody of the worship music, was so bright against his mid-night black skin. His eyes were shut, but when they opened, I don’t think he saw that room of people; his eyes reflected the thrown room of heaven. I liked watching him. As it turns out, he was our speaker for the evening, an ex-Musilm wanting to share his testimony. He stood up, holding his tattered Bible in his grip and began to lead us in the hymn, “All in All.” I can tell you there are few things more powerful than seeing a man freed from Islam singing out, with tears running down his face, “Yesu, Yesu, Lamb of God. Holy is Your name!” This is his story.
Yesir grew up in a Muslim family, in fact, the majority of his family and extended family were major leaders in the main mosque in town. When his family moved here from Tanzania, they enrolled him into a Christian school. Christian schools tend to have the best level of education here, so Muslim parents are willing to sacrifice their beliefs to education. He told us he was required to be in Bible class at this school. Every day he came home and told his family all about what the teachers were saying about the truth of Jesus. His father, an imam in the mosque, told him to shut his ears and not listen or to just leave when the teachers were talking about Jesus. So for one year he did just that. He fought the teachers tooth and nail on everything they were saying, he would fall asleep in class, he would distract others from learning, and he would refuse to listen.
The next year, he decided with a few other Muslim buddies to just listen to what the teachers were saying so that they could better understand how to fight the Christians. And listen he did. Within a year, he became a Christian in secret. He hid it for a while, but loving Jesus is not something anyone can hide. Finally, he got connected to a cell group, but when his dad found out that he was attending, he was given the ultimatum of leaving Christianity or leaving their family. So he left Christianity. However, that decision was short lived and it wasn’t long before he was back at the cell group. Soon, his dad discovered what was going on and banished him from his family, right after he had to sit down with every family member during an intervention where they accused him of going mad or being retarded. He was totally rejected by everyone he loved.
Yesir continued to grow in his faith, and his dad died a year or so later. He then came back to his family and from that point on has lead a good majority of his family to a living and personal relationship with Jesus! All because those teachers were bold and preached the Good News to a class full of Muslim students that didn’t seem to care at all.
I was so encouraged by this. How do I know if someone didn’t commit their life to Jesus this week? Yesir kept it a secret for a long time before he couldn’t contain it any more. I was also dumbfounded at how faithful God is. Just when I was feeling doubt about whether God hears me, and asking him to show me that he is hearing me, he allows a situation like this to happen. This situation was followed by three other insane instances of direct answer to prayer that week, where God responded in full and in detail.
If you are feeling distant from God, just ask him to draw near. He is faithful! If you are praying for something, don’t give up just because you don’t feel like God is listening. He is listening! If you are feeling discouraged, ask God to show you something encouraging. He will do it!
I look forward to a day when I can join Yesir, all my students, and the many other people I am praying for desperately, in heaven and worship like Yesir worshipped Thursday night. I want to see the reflection of heaven not only in my own eyes, but in the eyes of all the people I love who have been freed from the bondage of false religions, self worship, depression, or whatever is holding them captive. That is worth fighting for.