I am sitting at my desk on a dreary winter day, pondering the life that our family is living. My husband and I and our three young children have lived in a city with a high Muslim concentration for almost three years. Why did we move here? Why would we leave the life we worked so hard to create? Has it been worth the hard work, and sacrifices?
When I met my husband in NYC, he was already interested in Muslim evangelism. Together, we planned to dedicate our lives to reaching the unchurched. We lived in NYC for one year, and then moved to Ohio. My husband started a concrete business, and we eventually bought a small beef farm with a beautiful view. The business was growing and thriving, and the farm was such a nice place for our family to live. The missing piece was close contact with Muslim people.
We visited the city where we are now living several times, and clearly felt God prompting us to move here. We sold our business, and our farm. The business was going very well, and the farm had a breathtaking view. It was a strange feeling selling everything when life was going so well, but at the same time we felt great joy and excitement to be moving to a city with plenty of opportunities for service.
We moved here with a vision to start a Bible believing church among the Middle Eastern people. Our goal is for the church to eventually have local leadership. We want our church to be salt and light in our neighborhood, and to be a church that seeks to serve and bless in any way we can.
There are challenges to trying to share our faith here. Most of the people in our neighborhood are Muslims, and therefore have a religion and believe they have the truth. There is a language barrier especially with most of the women. Many of our neighbors practice gender segregation, so I can’t have those women to our house if my husband is here…. even for a birthday party. My husband’s office job is in our house. Handshaking with the opposite gender is not permissible for most people in our neighborhood. We are using friendship evangelism as a way of sharing the Gospel. It is slow, hard work, but we pray that God will connect us with people who are searching for Him.
Muslim people have do’s and don’t to guide their lives. They fast from all food and water during daylight hours for one month each year. They pray five times a day. They do not eat pork, or drink alcohol. These are not bad rules to follow, but rules do not change people’s hearts or desires. They need the new birth, the Holy Spirit, and our wonderful Savior’s example to follow. We long for our neighbors to have the peace that comes from knowing they are right with God. We want them to know that the temple veil is torn, and they can enter the holy of holies and commune with God.
In the past three years, we have worked hard to connect with the people here. Teaching English classes in our home has proven to be a great way to bless our community, build friendships with people, and share our faith. We used our homeschool room for the English classes. We moved the school books to the kitchen table to start school when my husband had one- on- one English classes in the morning.
We have repeatedly visited local coffee shops and restaurants to try to connect with the owners, and workers. My husband assumes that people want to talk. He makes a point to ask how business is going for them, and how their families are doing. He does so much better than me at caring more about other’s wellbeing than what they will think of him for asking about their lives. He reminds me that true love casts our fear. I must admit that he has had fruitful interactions with others in business and ministry because he has focused more on blessing others than impressing them.
We didn’t expect to interact much with children in this neighborhood, but I guess our children were like magnets. We live on a street corner so our whole property is visible to people walking by. We put a sandbox in our backyard, and it has been quite a hit. There are often several children playing happily in the sandbox with our youngest who is now three.
Each summer more children come to play on our property. They keep our oldest, who is now ten, quite busy fixing bikes. They like to use our drill to create things from wood. On warm days, our garage door is open all day. It is quite humbling how messy our garage and yard can become, but we are thankful to be able use them to give the children in our neighborhood a fun place to play and create.
During the warm months it is hard for me to keep up with house work because there are so many knocks on the door, and children to supervise on our property. They come into our house to charge their phone, or get water to drink even though their own house is only a few yards away. They like to cook food with us. Sometimes they come in from playing for just a few minutes of peace and quiet to rest on our sofa or recliner.
Has it been worth it to move here? Was it worth it to sell our lovely farm, and successful business? Yes! It was worth the sacrifices our family has made, and continues to make. It has been a sacrifice for our two oldest children in giving up the large yard, and the woods that we had on the farm, but they are enjoying having friends close by because we live in the city.
We are thankful for the friends we have made here, and the opportunities to share our faith. There are more opportunities for service than the amount of time our family has. There are refugees to help. People who want English classes. People that want to discuss the Bible. It is with great joy that we will continue to be used as vessels for God in this city. We look forward to some of our friends choosing Christ in the future. Please join us in prayer that our Muslim neighbors here in America will be given the faith to believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world. I hope that this glimpse into our life and ministry in the city has been a blessing and encouragement to you. May God give you many opportunities to share His love with the people around you. Christ is the answer for this lost and hurting world.
Our guest writer for this post has chosen to remain anonymous because of the work they are doing. But I will say that I am very blessed by this family’s commitment to serving the Lord by ministering to the Middle Eastern people around them! Please pray for them as they reach out in this way!
At the request of the writer, please do not share this post on social media. Thank you!