In areas where communities of Jesus followers are hard to find, workers like Matt are establishing heart-to-heart connections with their friends and neighbours.
In central north Africa, communities of believers can be hard to find. Long-term workers in the area want to change that by establishing deep connections with their friends and neighbours.
William*, the OM leader of one of the countries in the region, describes the culture as one with minimal trust as tribal fighting, civil wars and corrupt governments have left their impact. He says: "It is very difficult for someone to share easily that they are believers.” People face social ostracization and rejection from their families for following Jesus publicly.
Yet things are changing. Less than five years ago, OM workers knew about only ten disciples of Christ from this country. In 2023, they know of around 200, including those who live abroad. Several times a month, the team hears of people coming to Christ in the country or among the diaspora.
Sharing Jesus heart-to-heart
Originally from Europe, Matt* and his wife had just moved to a town with no known Jesus followers and asked the Holy Spirit to guide their footsteps and open them to His direction. Little did they know how these types of prayers often interrupt life's plans!
One day, they planned to meet a few foreign workers in another city. To their dismay, when they arrived at the bus terminal, there were no buses or taxis. But there was a local couple trying to get to the doctor. They started talking with the couple, who invited Matt and his wife to their home. Matt remembers: "They were so nice. You know how you sometimes just connect with people?" The group soon became fast friends. Matt says the couple ask many questions about his family’s faith, and he and his wife believe they will be gate-openers – the key to meeting many others who are open to hearing about faith in Jesus – to some of the communities in their city.
Another heart-to-heart connection was made by Sarah*, a long-term worker. Sarah prayed for her friend of many years, but the woman showed little interest in the gospel message. Instead of giving up, Sarah continued to pray. One day, the two went to another foreign worker's home to see some furniture that was for sale. Sarah’s friend saw a picture in the home with the words “Trust in the Lord” on it.
Not long after, the friend eagerly shared with Sarah about a dream in which she was dying, and people were standing around her praying. She looked up and saw an incredible light and knew it was Jesus. In the dream, she was healed and knew it was Jesus who had healed her. She stood up and immediately saw the Bible verse: "Trust in the Lord."
While Sarah’s friend is still on a journey towards surrendering to Jesus, she testifies that something within her has totally changed – that she feels like a new person and that Jesus is the one who will save her.
Hearts over programmes
Long-term mission workers in central north Africa work through many different programmes such as mercy ministries, arts, media and the training of new workers. Yet what has stuck with them the most is not the programmes but the heart transformations they have seen because of the Holy Spirit. Friends seeing Jesus for the first time, tears of joy over a bottle of water and friendships formed over coffee and shared meals are all stories they are excited to tell.
Pray for more long-term workers to join the efforts in the region. William shares: "We need people available to show up because God shows up often. We need to have workers living among the least reached.” Please pray for vibrant communities of Jesus followers to be established among the least reached cities in central north Africa.