'Any day, he could be gone'

Tags: Discipleship, Muslim Ministry, Europe, Macedonia, Story

SEND's workers around the world see our new vision statement — a global movement of Jesus followers making disciples among the unreached — taking root in each place they serve. Today we focus on “the unreached.” In our world today, 2.4 billion people have little or no access to the gospel; 1.7 billion of them are Muslim. The wave of refugees fleeing violence in Syria and Afghanistan has given SEND workers the opportunity to tangibly serve many Muslims, especially in a refugee camp set up along a train track in Macedonia.  

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The men met on a rainy day, mud threatening to suction the boots off their feet. Andy was trying to hand out food to hungry refugees. The situation was chaotic; Tahir* stepped in to help with crowd control.

This was months before Tahir, himself a refugee from Syria, developed a relationship with a short-term worker in the camp, continued the friendship thanks to social media and committed his life to the Lord in a conversation over Facebook Messenger.

Andy Spradley, a SEND church planter in Macedonia for more than 20 years, came back into Tahir’s life after he found out that this 25-year-old new believer — stuck for months in a refugee camp, separated from his parents, responsible for two younger siblings, traumatized by the death and violence he saw in Syria — had no one to disciple him.

So they started meeting, huddled in Tahir’s temporary shelter, two or three times a week for up to two hours each time.

“I wanted to read the Word and pray together intensively because any day, he could be gone,” Andy said.

They started out in the Gospel of Mark, but the Spirit has led these two all over the Word, studying how sin entered the world, learning lessons from the life of Abraham (also a key figure in Islam) and focusing on Philippians.

“He’s expressed a lot of frustration about basically being a prisoner,” Andy said. “So we read Paul’s example, of being in captivity but trusting in Christ.”

Of course, Andy did not move to Macedonia more than two decades ago expecting to encounter a refugee crisis. His experience illustrates SEND’s ethos of flexibility, our eagerness to make disciples among those whom God unexpectedly places in our path. Serving refugees in Macedonia is just one way SEND takes part in the global movement of Jesus followers making disciples among the unreached.

*Not his real name

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Growing in a new land: Hours spent studying the Word with one of our workers have prepared a student — the only Christ-follower on his campus — to serve as a powerful witness.

Mentoring Aigerim: Sometimes, ministering among the unreached means sharing a kitchen and letting discipleship naturally develop.