Ministering to Middle Eastern People in America

  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!

-We are Called to a Mission-

Jesus has called each of us to a mission. What mission has He called you to? Are you open to hearing what it is?

Meadows of Hope

Have you ever known a girl who needed more to succeed than her family, community or church could offer her? Meadows of Hope in Holtwood, PA began as an outreach of Camp Andrews to provide a much longer place than a summer camp for struggling girls to heal and change. Our goal is to disciple each teen girl at MOH into a healthy relationship with God and others and into responsible life choices so she can be successful at home.

Because of the need, we are planning (as God leads) for future expansion in the surrounding acres to serve more families and girls who are willing to commit and change. Right now, there is one residential home for up to 10 teenage girls who stay for 1-2 years, living as a revolving group with 2-3 single female mentors.

Activities throughout the day and year include:

·        Wake-up routine and personal quiet time.

·        Regular mealtimes around the table.

·        Feeding the horses and mucking out stalls.

·        School. Counseling sessions one-on-one.

·        Creative Expression and Culinary classes. Equine therapy sessions.

·        Siesta. Circle-ups as a group to solve problems.

·        Cleaning. Lawn-mowing and flowerbeds.

·        Working on personally-created goals.

·        Extended wilderness backpacking and canoe trips.

·        Group-planned fun evening activities.

·        Journaling to which the mentors write a response.

·        Reflecting on our day as a group.

Living in a group at Meadows of Hope leaves very few hidden emotions, choices or weaknesses. The girls’ strengths and insight help each other as they process anger, anxiety, self-harm, lack of motivation and focus, disrespect, physical/emotional/sexual abuse, manipulation, lying, difficult family dynamics, and adoption issues and choose a better way to live. The mentors and other staff provide an incredible amount of structure, nurture, wisdom and love, but there’s something unusually powerful and healing about girls’ mirroring each other and speaking truth into their group.

I am involved at MOH mainly in the office, but I also interact with the group as a backup mentor, supervisor or teacher. Relating directly with the teen girls gives more meaning to my back-stage duties, and so often, I can identify with a girl’s goal or struggle. It has been true in most, if not all, mission work where I have been involved, that the toughest terrain to claim for God’s kingdom is the hard, unredeemed ground still inside me. I’m so thankful Jesus’ living water is available to heal both the dedicated staff and the brave girls here!

Grace Thompson has served at several different missions and has a heart for people and children from hard places! She is and continues to be a blessing to many. Thank you Grace for your willingness to share with us today!

Explore Savannah

In November we four girls, our moms, and Kinza’s and my younger sister and brother took a few days away together and went to Georgia and South Carolina. We would like to share some highlights of the trip and recommendations if you would like to visit those states; primarily Savannah, Georgia, and St. Simons’ Island, Georgia. Comment below with your favorite historic or tourist places to visit while traveling!

We took a trolley ride through the historic district of Savannah. It was very interesting, especially for all of us Eugenia Price fans. I’ll take the opportunity now to recommend her books! They are considered historical fiction although they are written about actual people who lived in early Savannah, Georgia, and St. Simons’ Island. Along with the historical interest, though, is the absolute beauty of the city! There are many old, architecturally amazing buildings and elaborate houses. The city has 22 squares which are basically parks that have old fountains and enormous trees covered in moss. We found a little red phone booth and of course had to stop there for a mini photo shoot.

River Street is a very popular street in Savannah. It is just what it sounds like, a street right along the riverfront. It is a great place to buy something to remember the trip by as there are a lot of souvenir shops, restaurants, and other interesting stores including an enormous candy store with every candy you can imagine! We ate at The Shrimp Factory, a restaurant that has amazing seafood: you won’t be disappointed!

Christ Church at Frederica was another high point from Eugenia Price’s books. The church was actually built by one of the main characters and lots of the book characters are buried at this beautiful church cemetery. Even if you don’t read, though, you should still visit this church; the nature around it is stunning- especially the rose tree we found which was covered in moss!

I feel like I keep repeating myself, but here again is a monument from Lighthouse, written by Eugenia Price. The St. Simons’ light was built by the main character of the book. Although the original lighthouse was torn down in the civil war to keep the Confederates from taking it, an identical one was built later.

A huge highlight of the trip was parasailing off the coast of Hilton Head! Definitely do this if you’re ever close to the ocean! Even for all you out there that do not like things that are too exciting or that take you too far off the ground, you still need to try parasailing. It’s so worth it!

Since we were staying on Hilton Head Island we also had to go to the renowned restaurant The Salty Dog Cafe. I will say it is on the expensive side, but we ate good food!

Because He Came

Merry Christmas from Pursuing Our Purpose!
  1. I can have LIFE.
  2. I can live in Joy!
  3. I am able to Give and receive Love, because He showed me how!
  4. I can receive Redemption through His Blood.
  5. I can choose to Forgive.
  6. I have the ability to create Beauty; He is a God of Beauty!
  7. I am able to have Peace even when there is turmoil.
  8. I can receive Healing.
  9. I can have Relationships.
  10. I can give good gifts, because I have received Good Gifts!

Complete Surrender : Because He is Faithful

But in the moment and the pain it doesn’t make sense…..the tears come over and over. I wonder and think. It feels confusing, and I can’t sort it out. I don’t even know how to talk.

I must come to rest in God. I need to have my faith in God completely and wholeheartedly. God has not allowed this trial just because He did not want to stop it. He allowed this exact circumstance to be in my life at this appointed time, because He has a reason and purpose for it. Am I able to to trust in His faithfulness because He has not left me before? He has met me at my low spots and He will again. He is God. He is Omnipotent, having all power.

And then I see a glimpse of Jesus. He brings a special person at just the right time. That note, hug and cup of coffee are extra special. The sun shining on the trees is a love touch from Jesus when I needed it most. Jesus continues to show Himself True and Faithful even in the hardest moments when I don’t see it myself.

I have a choice. Do I want to become bitter or better through this situation. I can become more refined and beautiful through it. If I choose to grow through it, allowing Jesus to change me, and use others to care for me, I will be better equipped to understand myself and others later in life.

It’s hard. The surrender and joy don’t come easy. Some days I just don’t know, and the pain is too deep. And it’s okay for me to not always understand and be fine. Surrender is casting our anger, pain and intense emotions at Jesus’ feet and asking Him to help me surrender. It’s letting the tears come and telling Him how I feel.

But today I choose to be surrendered and claim joy! Deep inside I know that is what I want. I don’t want to be out of God’s plan for my life. I desire to become more beautiful through it. I want to hold His hand in complete surrender because He is faithful, and has not let me down once.

…..And even though it’s seems impossible now, I even desire to come to a place where I can thank Jesus for allowing this situation…..”God, You are good all the time.

” Blessed be the God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4

We can’t control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we choose to respond to things we can’t control. – Avis J. Williams