A Story of Faithfulness in the Middle East

Our story begins with the God who became a man and lived among us. Our story is about that Man who died at the hands of men, so that His blood could ransom men for God. Our story has little to do with us, but is immersed fully into the story we heard and believed of that Man who rose again and lives today in us, and will reign. Our story, while we breathe, will be about our King Jesus, who won an inheritance from all nations. This story is not ours, we did not write it. We are characters in it only. We have been grafted in as children and as workers, and I’m happy to report that Jesus has won souls from every tribe. Our story is about that Day we have heard rumors about - one where every knee will bow and every tongue confess. That Day is coming soon.

He lived as God’s beloved Son, pleasing the Father and persevering at all times in the Spirit. He ate Obedience bread and drank the living water daily, manifesting His Love to the created order through signs and miracles. The paralyzed man walked in the confidence given by the gracious news of, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” He loosed the bonds that the demons called Legion had on that outcast from Gethsemane. The unclean woman and the dog now eat happily as sisters and daughters at the Master’s table. All these and more clearly testified that God was in the world. He spoke of His suffering that would come soon, but when it came, the sheep were scattered. He commanded those to listen, but their ears were stopped. He shined a light on the Truth, but the ones who saw shut up their eyelids. He was arrested, and condemned to die. No justice was found for the One who secured justice for the poor and needy. Honor could not be gathered for the One poured it freely from His own cup. The Love of God was culminated in this true moment of history, when Jesus Christ breathed His last and died to save.

The women at the tomb heard the news from the angel. This same news is the news that the five of us have heard and believed in at different times. This news is the Good news we have been broadcasting to all who will listen; Jesus has risen, He is not in the tomb. Jesus has risen; He is not in the tomb!

Oman is a country thrust deep into the dark kingdom of Islam. YHWH is not their king, but they serve some other god. They are deceived into believing this god is true and loving. My friends and I were given the opportunity to spend four months in this country, being obedient to what we know and learning more of the gospel that saved our own souls. We lived and worked together, constantly facing unbelief on all sides. January flew us into a bright, warm country with hearts full of excitement and hope. February began to reveal to us the apathy of our friends. March taught us to endure with love and the hope we had before, but began to teach us to season that hope with a renewal of the truth about Jesus. April moved swiftly, and we tried to keep up and run the race we had become accustomed to running together. May was a blink. Now, my friends and I are home in various places. Summer stayed and taught us how to think about our past, and the fall ushered in new roles for each of us. Our friends in Oman are still there, and to our knowledge, are still without the hope that had to become our food. I have so much I want to write, my friends, but I want to at least share with you the hope I’ve been given from the Father. He has been good to me, to offer His Son in my place, to teach me truth when I doubt, and to have always reminded me that Jesus has won an inheritance from every tongue.

Our job was to sow seeds of the gospel message far and wide. We’ve been given the promise that those who hear and believe will be saved. I became most discouraged when I doubted what God Himself promised. Retrospectively, I recognize His providence and my faithlessness. Funny how that pattern characterizes much of my memories[1]. We shared the message that we knew and are always learning, the gospel, that Jesus was the only way, the truth, and the life. Our Omani friends would invite us into their homes, they would take us on trips, and they would listen to our stories as they made sure we were well fed and had plenty of coffee and dates. We could find common ground with one another in our service to God, but Jesus, our Messiah, our life and truth and only way to God, our victory, and our only hope - we disagreed on Jesus.

We learned and relearned together that our anchor is secure, that our reason to hope was not in vain. Jesus promised, and He won the victory. We shared, but understanding never flooded our friends’ bodies and minds. We never had the privilege of seeing Omani eyes opened. They kept the bracelets that we saw as their chains, and we wept together, hoping they wouldn’t forever adorn themselves in darkness.

We have all gone from Oman, but faithful sowers remain. From these friends that have an inheritance with us in the Kingdom, we heard of the message penetrating hearts that we did not know. They were like whispers to us, and the more I heard the whispers, the more I became convinced the confession, “Jesus is Lord!” would be on the lips of Omanis and other Gulf Arabs soon.

We stood on a mountain overlooking a village where we prayed for a group of believers secretly meeting together. We rejoiced hearing about our friend’s neighbor who, after hearing and seeing the gospel from our friend for three years, began to find fulfillment and rest in Jesus. We heard of two sisters who believed at different times and were now under persecution from their families. They don’t share in community with each other or other believers much, but we’re confident that they are in direct relationship with God, and He is all their hope and stay.

Speaking and sharing could sometimes feel like shouting through a thick glass window to our friends. But the whispers that God is speaking there, calling His people out of darkness, convinced me that the glass was much more like cellophane. Once it breaks, the breath of Life will flood in, as the waters cover the sea. The glory of the Lord fills the earth like the water covers the sea, and I’m convinced that soon Arabs will confess with their mouths, believe in their hearts, and find salvation in our gracious King.

I forgot our hope often, and I often forget now. But the victory is sure. The message is not mine; this story is not ours. We are characters in it only, and this is the good report that I have to give.

Editor's note: This post was originally sent as a final update to supporters of a Fusion Alumni serving in the Middle East. It remains anonymous for the protection of future work in Oman.