I don’t want to go…

“I have heard of the Bible, but have been forbidden to read it. I want to know the truth because I do not want to die and go to hell.” Saeed honestly said.

Rewind….

I met a dear friend, Nathan, that preaches the gospel to the people of China at a conference in Indiana. I returned to my stateside home in GA and a few months later, I receive a text message from China. Nathan told me that he witnessed to a young man that lives in China from Saudi Arabia Saeed, the young Saudi, took the tract that Nathan gave him, and then chased him down telling Nathan that he wants to learn more. Saeed wanted to read the Bible in Arabic and wanted the right version to read. I told him the correct version and then learned of his family and how he had no freedom to question Islam in Saudi Arabia, which is said to be the land that is the heart of Islam. Saeed is a thinker and said that he wants to find the truth for himself. Hence, he told me he didn’t want to go to the fire. He started in Matthew and is now in the gospel of John. He only started about 3 weeks ago and he adamantly seeks the truth.

Many in the world seek the truth of God, but do not know where to turn. In majority Muslim countries, the freedom of religion is limited. In some Islamic countries they say it’s fine to “change your religion.” If you change from another to Islam, that’s okay, but if you change from Islam to Christianity, that is a big problem and can even be used to press criminal charges. One could even be killed by family or someone that was close for such a change.

I thank the Lord for orchestrating events so Saeed can hear the truth. Imagine, a young Muslim from Saudi, goes to China, and is witnessed to through an American missionary and then God connects us all to see the name of Christ glorified. The Lord came to seek and to save those that are lost. Take part in spreading the gospel of Christ to those you think may not listen, but could be ready to learn. Be open to the need of others around you. Learn about the need of Christ in the world. It is said that the least evangelized religious group is the followers of Islam. Pray the Lord works in the lives of people to give them a desire to seek Him. Consider being a witness to see Christ magnified in Muslim majority countries. Will you be used to answer their need with the saving Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?

  • Some names have been changed to protect identities
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The Goodness of God…The Choice of Man

“I believe you died for me and rose again from the dead. Forgive me and save me and justify me. I will follow you.” Shawqee humbly prayed. It blesses me to see the Almighty God save those through the power of the Gospel. He is the God that reigns and yet says, “Whosover will, let him take of the water of life freely. (Rev 22:17 b).” From before the foundation of the world, God thought of Shawqee. His goodness was presented to him. He heard that Jesus died for His sins, then he heard of the power over death through His resurrection. He knew the penalty for sin was death and that Christ took his place. “He asked, what if I sin after I call on His name?” “Do you understand what it means to be justified?” I sincerely asked him. Then I explained to him that the sin he has is placed on the cross of Christ and the righteousness of Christ is freely given to him when he places his faith in Christ. This will be his position in which he stands (Rom 5:1-2, 2 Cor 5:21). What an amazing truth!

I thank the Lord of glory that had us on His mind and died for our sins and rose again for our justification. It is not his will for us to sin. It is not His will that any should perish, therefore we must say Yes to the One that loves us and gave Himself for us.

When Shawqee, my friend from Jordan, heard of God’s goodness, he submitted to the love of God the Father,  the mighty work of Christ the Son, and the wooing of the Holy Spirit and then he was gloriously saved! I was able to baptize him a couple of months later. He now follows Christ because he has the Holy Spirit of God that empowers him to do so.

I was then able to witness to Shawqee’s daughter and shared the same truths, but she said, “Not yet.” He freely offers salvation that He paid for, but we have to choose to trust Him for His finished work.

Maybe you heard of the goodness of God that draws men to repentance, but you resist the Holy Spirit as the religious did when they heard the words of Christ and saw His miraculous works. That is your choice and not the will of God. He is not willing that any should perish. He is the God that reigns, but you have to submit to the King by saying yes.  You must daily say yes to His work in you to do His will when you are born again (Eph 2:8-10, Heb 13:20-21).

Millions still have not submitted to the God of creation that gave them a conscience. Many still have not heard and need a preacher to share this wonderful truth. Will you say yes to Him and drink of the water of life that He freely gives and then grow daily through His Spirit? God will use you as you carry the message of the glorious Gospel to the lost that are in need of the Savior that loves them and gave Himself for them.

His Ways Not Mine…Yet

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts”.

Isa 55:8-9            

“I cannot wait until I get to Egypt to see my friends and get back into the work the Lord called me to.” I excitedly thought. I had the date planned and all of the preparations in my thoughts and just ready to be put into action. As the time draws near, I see that my plan was not His plan.

Have you ever had everything planned out and then seen it all changed and what you had in mind was suddenly “destroyed!” Maybe it was a job or a school you wanted to go to? Maybe it was a relationship with a spouse to be, that just didn’t pan out. You didn’t see the reason, but now you may see the reason or maybe not.

We had a change of plans when the opportunity arose for us to foster a baby that was in deep need. My heart’s desire is to see Egypt and to sing the Arabic songs of the redeemed with a house full of people that love Christ. The songs still reverberate in my heart, as I think of them. Yet, I know the will of God for us right now is to be there for little baby.

I am learning that the God of heaven is still on the throne. His goal is to make me more like Christ and to guide me each step of the way. This does not take away the anxiety and sometimes fear that overwhelm me at times. Some fear going to a place like Egypt to live, due to the past attacks on churches and the uprising against the government. My fear is different. My fear is that the door to go to Egypt won’t open in my timing. The fear is that all of us will not return for days ahead.

God’s will is right now. I must follow Him today and then take the next step. He opens and shuts doors or put things “on hold” until He decides to move. Paul wanted to go to Asia, but ended up in other parts of Macedonia, where he saw many come to Christ, other churches supporting him that were in deep need and then he was able to encourage other churches by their deep love for the Lord and the heartbeat of missions.

I’m learning that God directs, not David. I am learning that His ways are not my ways. Here in the context of Isaiah 55, we have a wonderful God that blesses and forgives the undeserving. It is hard for us to fathom, but He does the same with all of us. We deserve hell, but He abundantly pardons. He does the unthinkable.

In my life, He is doing the unthinkable. He blesses me with new friends in the ministry. He lets me preach His holy name. I have been able to lead people to Christ. I have seen many submit to a focus on Christ and missions. Others committed to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. These blessings are beyond my comprehension. As a matter of fact, the ministry in Egypt, through the faithful believers, flourishes even now. The believers are growing more now than ever. They are doing more without us there than with us! This baffles and humbles me. I know His ways are not my ways, but I trust Him to mold me and make me like His glory, the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t get me wrong! Our ministry and goal is to return to Cairo and continue seeing churches established. I rest in His guidance and I know we will return to the land we love as soon as possible, while hoping He uses us for His glory today. His ways may not be my  ways, but I pray my heart changes and I can say, His way is my way even when I do not understand. I must follow the one true way, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is always good.

Behold My Glory

The crowded streets bustle with noise, as I look around and the lights flash. People walk right into each other, but they do not even glance to see one another. People from all different cultures bask in the lights around Times Square in New York. Different advertisements pop up on bigger than life screens on buildings. People wear clothes from all over and speak other languages. A mixture of cultures coming to see this famous landmark. I see a giant M&M flying next to a Disney store and then I glance to the left, I see an Arab man manning a hot dog and Shawerma stand. The streets are filled with life, or are they?

I converse with a lady on the train and she goes to a Masonic Celebration. I talk to Ahmed from Morocco and he gladly takes the Bible Tract I give him. I witness to another young man and then leave gospel literature at a Middle Eastern restaurant.

The busy streets and chaotic driving of New York City remind me of the city I love, Cairo. The people of Egypt chaotically go in their different directions, while sometimes going nowhere. Some are going to the mosque to pray and some to the Coptic church. Others are headed to the metro to go to school and work. Then some just go to the streets to beg. Another place filled with life, but people dead in sins.

“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” Matt 9:36

The multitudes in these cities have similarities and great differences. I travel from place to place sharing the great spiritual oppression and great spiritual work in Egypt, but the need is the same. They need a shepherd, the Chief Shepherd. He looks with tears of compassion. I pray to do the same. I want to see the world as Christ does. They are people that need direction. Christ is the Director and He is the Direction. By Him all things consist and He says, He is the way.

They can find their way through the power of the gospel and a voice crying in the wilderness. Will you look around to see those needing direction and cry out to them with power and grace so they can be lead daily in their lives and then to the kingdom of glory for eternity? They can then behold His glory, the glory of the Risen Christ!

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory…” Jn 17:24

Christ died for the atheist, the Muslim, the homosexual and the oppressed. He loves the prideful businessman and the homeless beggars on the streets. People are everywhere with different names, cultures, attributes and religions. He loves all. Do you? If so what will you do about it? Let them behold His glory.

 

To Fast or Not to Fast

“David, it is 43 degrees Celcius (approx 110 degrees Fahrenheit) here in Egypt!” Mahmoud exclaimed to me. I laughed and he laughed. I asked, “And you’re fasting too!!” He immediately said, “No! That’s impossible!” We laughed together as we talked. He is in Egypt, the land that I love and I am here in the States. Right now it is Ramadan for the Muslims so they are supposed to fast during this time. Egyptians are in dire straits and in difficulties, but they still love to laugh and have a great time. They love to joke even in times of pain. That is the most beautiful thing about Egypt, the people.

This month is very trying for the Muslims in NAfrica due to the extremely hot climate, but also because it is the holy Islamic month of Ramadan. This is a time where Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset. They cannot eat or drink any liquid, including water. They are not supposed to take pleasure in activities and you see many walking around with solemn faces advertising that they are fasting. As I drove down the streets of Maadi during Ramadan, I would see ahawas (outdoor coffee and sheesha shops) that were completely covered over. Everyone knew that there were men in there drinking tea, smoking sheesha and eating bean pitas. They were supposed to be fasting, but they thought, if you don’t see me, it’s okay. Of course, there are many that keep the fast and you even here about some that die fasting. The Muslim will say “Ilhumdllah, Praise be to God. He is now in Paradise.” There are crowded streets, shouting and fighting and grouchy passersby due to the lack of food and drink. On the metro, many chant the Quran and memorize each sura for approval from Allah and to be a better person.

We see some following the fast and others that will not and cannot. Both of them have issues because the one that does the fast, feels prideful about himself and believes he has earned more favor to go Paradise and the other feels condemned and feels he must make up for it some way.

This is just one law that the Quran and  Hadith demands. There are laws and if they are broken, there is sure condemnation and less of a chance for Paradise where there are rewards of sensual pleasure that could not be experienced on the earth, but now can be experienced for eternity. It is a law that cannot be fulfilled because the heart of mankind is corrupt. It is a law that if partially fulfilled causes pride and arrogance or condemnation. It is a law that comes from corruption and reaps corruption. Can Muslims be forgiven by keeping laws? Can we be forgiven by keeping the OT law? Can we earn our way to heaven?

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:28

Man cannot fully keep the law of the holy God of heaven. Man cannot keep the laws of the god of the Quran. The law shows our insufficiency, but the mighty sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the answer to the deception of fasting for favor from God. He is the fulfiller of the law and He works in us to do His will. He is the one that is holy and just, yet full of grace. Is it okay to fast and to do good deeds? Of course!! These works are not a part of our justification and forgiveness of sins, but something we do out of love for the God that saves.

Those that think they can make it to heaven through laws and works are deceived. They need someone to save them from the curse of the law. They need someone to work in them to do according to His word. They need a book that shows the way to eternal life. It is all found in Christ.

He is the answer that is needed for true hope and joy. His word is pure and guides our way. He wants to answer their needs. He wants to show them they cannot earn their way to heaven, but He freely gives His all.

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3:24

Pray for Muslims all over the world that seek favor and enlightenment during this time. We have the answer and His name is Jesus. Let Him answer their need through you. If they trust in Christ alone for salvation, He will save and give life and that more abundantly.

Cast Your Care

“That Ingeely was totally wrong! (Ingeely: evangelical in Arabic: a general name for Christians who are not Coptic Orthodox in Egypt). “I know Jesus died for us, but you have to work to get to heaven! You must let God do His part, but if you do not get baptized, or take the Lord’s Supper and cease from bad works, how can you be forgiven! You can’t!” Karollos strongly proclaimed. “Imagine them saying that salvation is by grace through faith alone. They think that you do not work for salvation. How deceived!”

Karollos continued arguing in his mind as he went to St Mary Coptic Church on the Nile River in Maadi. It was a historic masterpiece with a beautiful view of the serene water. The name of the church is given to the one he perceives is the Holy Mother that is at the right hand of the Father. Karollos chants at the beginning of mass that St Mary intercedes for him. He forgot to pray that morning and he didn’t fast like he was supposed to. He knew if he died on the way to church before confession and mass, he would assuredly go to the Fire. He was a good Coptic, but he did not know if he was forgiven. He did not have peace. He could not seem to do enough to gain heaven. He continued on in drudgery, knowing that he was right and that salvation by grace through faith was too easy and could not be true. He had small doubts and wanted peace, but hoped he would receive peace after he died.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)

Religion that demands dead works as worship and as a means of salvation, is not salvation at all. It is BONDAGE! Religions across the world bind people and give them false expectations and no hope at all. They seek forgiveness, but can never obtain. They want peace, but there lies war within. They want hope, but they cannot get past their guilt and pain. They want heaven, but their circumstances make them sense they are headed to hell.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30

When you truly come to Jesus, there is rest. You have a peace that there is forgiveness that is freely given, victory over sin, and a home in glory. Jesus says to “Come.” We choose to go to the feet of Jesus by grace through faith. This does not mean there are no trials or tribulations. This does not mean there is no temptation to sin. This does not mean that we do not feel helpless at times. It does mean that as we come to the Lord Jesus by faith and grasp His promises, we have peace. This concept is foreign to peoples all over the earth. They are bound by tradition, false religion, sins, and hopelessness. The example of Karollos, a Coptic in Egypt, is a reflection of millions in Egypt and throughout the world. They need help. They need the gospel.

Will you come to Egypt to take part in preaching the gospel of grace and truth? Will you pray for laborers to go to the fields without forgetting the need to go, as well? Will you tell those enslaved by sin to cast their cares on the Savior that lived, died and rose again for our salvation. He is rest. He breaks the bondage. Christ is all and more than enough, but rest is found when the cares are left to Him. Will you take some by the hand and lead them to the Lord Jesus so they too can find rest unto their souls?

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Fatima is weary from her flight to Mecca. She saved up money for years to come to Mecca, the holy city of Islam. She wants to fulfill all of the five pillars of Islam. She wants forgiveness of sins. The hustle and bustle of the city overwhelm her. Millions are there with Fatima. Some smile and others look distraught. Some eagerly await for their turn to enter the holy place. Other women are in line to walk with their mahram (a male that must walk with the women). She saw some ladies leaving the pilgrimage with tears. They were not tears of joy, but of abuse. She does not have the respect she wants from her husband. He just married a younger, more beautiful girl. She fought and complained, but her husband nearly beat her and said that she must submit. She felt at odds and hurt, but she knew that the Prophet did the same. He married many other women. She walked around the Kabba (Black monument in the center of Mecca) and was groped several times. Once again, she felt hurt, but maybe she had to suffer and sacrifice like this for Allah to see her and forgive her. After her experience, she thought, “Is it true that I’ve been forgiven of my sins? I know I will fail again. Can I have the peace that I have been searching for?” She then goes back to Egypt and ready to do more in Islam, but still feeling empty and uncertain about her future.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” Eph 1:4. 

Many people look for hope and peace. I praise the Lord for the God of the Bible. The Holy God of heaven made Himself accessible when He became flesh and then died and rose again from the dead. He conquered death and ever lives to intercede for the believer. We trust in Him and He receives us and we receive Him. Along with Christ, we have all spiritual blessings in Him. He is the sweet treasure that is also love, joy, peace, forgiveness, righteousness. He is my wisdom in times of doubt. He is freedom from bondage. He is victory over the grave. He is all I need.

When Paul was being beaten and worn. He too had fears and doubts, but he rested in the all sufficient God to hold and keep him. No matter what the conflict, he knew Christ was his deliverance.

“For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;” 2 Cor 1:8-10

There are people searching for these things and cannot seem to find them. This manifests itself in so many ways. One was described above, but the same can be seen in the dedicated Buddhist with his chants searching to be nothing. The atheist that denies God and lives his life not regarding the authority of the Almighty that is clearly seen in creation and conscience and in the word of God. It shows forth in the life of the meth addict that wants another fix. Christ fulfills and He gives all and gives according to the riches of His grace. We are blessed.

Look around you today and see those around you as Christ sees them. Are there people around you that are searching for something that you have been freely given? Share this treasure that can fill. Share the Gospel. They can receive these spiritual blessings, when they receive Christ.

Work Together for the Gospel’s Sake

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Phil 1:27

“God is working and we are blessed!” Gergis in Egypt excitedly told me.

It amazes me to see that the Lord of glory uses us for the proclamation of His name. We can actually work together as believers to see His name magnified here and in all the earth. Countless millions still do not know about the name of the Lord Jesus. They need to hear. The Lord Jesus gave a command to His disciples to Go and preach and to make more disciples. We are the fruit of the labors of Christ in His disciples. Now He uses the foolishness of preaching to confound the wise. He uses the believers to go forth and show the gospel to others by word and deed. As we submit to Him, His love for the world will manifest itself in our hearts and then through our actions.

This striving together is not bound by location. Paul was in a dark prison when he commanded the Philippian church to work together for the gospel, but Paul prayed for the believers while trapped in prison (1:9-11). They also prayed for him and supported his work as he lifted up the name of Jesus. There was a mindset of working together for the sake of the Gospel.

While I am here in the States, I am able to encourage the believers in Egypt. I counsel Gergis and still disciple him with Bible lessons through technology. I share things I am learning and then he passes it on to the believers and the lost there in Egypt. We continually pray for one another. Gergis encouraged me by sharing that his family prays for us everyday by name.

The devil causes divisions by his temptation, but we do not have to submit to the workings of the devil and the flesh. Greater is the God that is in us (1 Jn 4:4). We can choose to work together for the sake of the Gospel, no matter our location and no matter the cost.

I ask you to start striving together with those around you to exalt the name of Jesus. If you have missionary friends in other countries, pray for them and send them a note of encouragement. God can use you to strive together with them and other believers in the battle we go through. I believe others can come to know Him and He will be glorified now and into eternity by the work we do together for His name’s sake.

A Portal of Hope

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:  Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. 

As Mohammed heard the call to prayer, he went anticipating to hear a message from the Quran and to pray to Allah. He would sometimes meditate on the teachings of Sufi cleric, Sheikh Eid Al-Jariri, before walking to the mosque. The weather was particularly nice this day and he knew it would be a good day. Mohammed was greeted by friends and welcomed in as the worship began. The message was one of worship to Allah and peace with friends. It seemed to be a hopeful message. As prayers were closing, Mohammed walked out with his friends, Ahmed and Ali, then BOOM…!! A loud, explosive sound came from inside the mosque, a bomb and then another right after that one! Screams break into the air and then gunfire is heard. “Allah Akbar!!” is shrieked and then more gunfire. “Run, Run, Run!!” Mohammed sees blood on his hands as Ahmed falls to the ground. They run as bullets fly past him and then more explosions. The ambulance comes and Mohammed cries, “Please help me, help us here!” The gunshots blow up the ambulance and there is no escape. Mohammed looks into the sky and prays for mercy and then looks to see the bodies of 2 young boys and others all around. “Mercy, Allah!!” and then as he screams, the bullets pierce his chest and then he screeches in pain and gasps for breath. He looks to the left to see Ali with the blank look of death and blood all over his newly bought galabeya (cultural robe) drenched with blood. Then Mohammed closes his eyes and dies.

Mohammed wasn’t expecting to die at the hand of other Muslims. He simply wanted to worship his god according to his conscience. Then he and over 200 Muslims died from a deliberate act of terror this past week in Bir al-Abed Egypt. It is a small town of a little over 1900 people. This is still a shock to this town where every family was effected. This senseless outrage was done to appease the false god of a religion that breeds on fear. Mohammed was one of many that died without hope.

Our only hope is in the cross and the resurrection. The Gospel springs forth hope and salvation. We have God’s life bringing message and sometimes, we are the only ones with it. What I mean is, that the Gospel is about Jesus and it is a message for the entire world. Why is this treasure kept to us, when it is a gift that is free for all? What would have happened if these terrorists were shown the power of the Gospel? What would have happened had Mohammed heard the truth of a Loving God that gave Himself for him. Hope only heals if it arrives on time. People are in darkness. Why not be a portal and ray of hope to those who have never heard that the Lord Jesus Christ, God of Life, died, was buried and Rose Again so that you, who was dead in sins could live life and that more abundantly.

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