Naadirah breathed a sigh of relief as she sat down. She was thankful to be on a bus in this dry and dusty Arabic city. She had barely eked out the $2 for the ticket. Her three-year-old son, Aamir, was sick and needed to see a specialist. For their last appointment, they had to walk for hours each way, because the small fare was more than she could afford that week. But not today.
The only obvious seat was next to a Western woman who had scooted over to make room.
At his mother’s coaxing, little Aamir greeted the stranger he was seated next to. The woman’s response surprised Naadirah: “Jesus blessed the children that came to Him. Do you know of Jesus and the Injiil?”
This question unnerved Naadirah, who was raised a Muslim.
How could this stranger know that she had this ‘forbidden book’? (Injiil is the Arabic word for the Gospels, often used to refer to the whole New Testament.)
Naadirah’s mother-in-law had found it. She was cleaning out an office and throwing away a bunch of books, but salvaged the Injiil and gave it to her son, Taj, Naadirah’s husband.
That was a few months ago. Since Naadirah couldn’t read, Taj would read it to her in the evenings after coming home from work. They loved the stories of Jesus! He seemed like such an amazing person. With everything happening through ISIS lately, they were inspired by the forgiveness and kindness of Jesus’ way. They seemed drawn to Him.
At the same time, they felt lost. They had questions about what they read, but didn’t know who they could ask. Everyone they knew was a Muslim. Their parents, siblings, cousins, and neighbours attended mosques as they did. Sometimes Taj would try to find answers online, researching the stories of the Injiil and trying to find out more about Jesus.
And now this stranger was asking about the Injiil.
A miraculous encounter
As they spoke, Naadirah learned that the lady’s name was Caroline and she was from Canada. Caroline knew a great deal about the Injiil. In fact, she offered to meet with Naadirah and her family to talk about it and study it together! Naadirah immediately took Caroline’s phone number so they could set up a day to learn more.
The Lord arranged this miraculous meeting that day! He placed Naadirah on the same bus as Caroline, a Pioneers missionary. In a country that is 99% Muslim, Naadirah most likely would never have met a believer in Jesus in her lifetime if she hadn’t met Caroline.
Finally, the day came when Caroline visited the family in their tiny home. She brought a fellow missionary brother with her. Caroline was thrilled to see the fervency with which Taj and Naadirah asked questions and read the Word together. They began to meet weekly for further study.
And then a miracle occurred. Jesus himself appeared to Naadirah! She dreamt of Him coming to her and asking the question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Praise God for the work He is doing in Naadirah’s family. The Lord is honouring the boldness and discernment Caroline showed on that bus a few months back. Breakthroughs like these remind Caroline of the reason she was willing to say goodbye to family and friends in Canada and travel halfway around the world to learn a new culture and language in a “closed” and risky country for missionaries*. And yet she perseveres in obeying God’s call on her life, trusting that there are no closed countries, and that He is well aware of the risks of taking His Gospel to all who need to hear.
Caroline continues to meet weekly with Naadirah and Taj. They read a story and learn it so they can tell it to someone in the following days. They ask God what He is teaching in the story and what He would like them to do or obey. Naadirah re-tells these stories; she shares them with more and more family members, as she grows in boldness. She asks Taj to re-read a story, then she practices it over and over, so she can memorize it.
Not only is God showing up in dreams, He is answering Naadirah’s prayers! She and Caroline prayed for the bus fare when it came time for Aamir’s next specialist appointment. And a family member provided the amount needed. Naadirah’s father had prayed to Allah to heal his wife’s immobile arm, but to no avail. And then, as Naadirah prayed to Jesus, her mother received mobility in her arm! Praise God!
This journey towards meeting Jesus personally has taken significant steps for this family. The seed planted before Caroline has befriended them has taken root and is being watered.
Many Pioneers missionaries have expressed the clear need for more people to join them. To help Pioneers send more missionaries to the field, please support the Strategic Priorities Fund that helps Pioneers recruit, train and send more individuals, couples and families whom God has called. Please give today!
*For security reasons, all the names in this story have been changed, as have the photos.