Friends for Reaching Out to the Middle East,                                                                       June 2015

The distance from here to the Middle East is great in more than one way. But God's capacity to transcend the miles and do miracles in people's lives astounds me. Because of security I cannot adequately describe my trip to United Arab Emirates. But I can say the Lord broke through the possible and into the impossible.

The Lord Breaks Through

God Makes Connections    

Cyrus, Karen, and Barry


Fifteen months ago I met Cyrus* through a friend. Immediately we knew that the Lord had put us together, and that He wanted us to train younger leaders from one of the most repressed countries in the world.  So we set out on God's adventure. Karen Jones, youth ministry professor at Huntington College, Indiana, joined us.


First, God miraculously broke through wide expanses of separation. From Cyrus in UAE, to his USA contacts, to the in-country church leaders, to the parents of the potential attendees, then back to the pastor, to the USA contact, to Cyrus. Add to that maze the danger of leaving and returning to the country without being exposed. Often I thought: "If one person shows up at our training it will be a miracle." But they did--14 of just the "right" people. 

Seekers Become Finders

Then God surprised us with several "seekers." In this case a "seeker" is someone from another religion looking for the True God in Jesus Christ, but not yet convinced enough to go against their entire culture to follow Him.

Our seekers fit this definition. Yet after our first breakfast with them we realized that God was up to something. They talked openly about their personal lives and curiously asked about Jesus--before we even started our Jesus-Focused training.
Jesus-Focused Youth Leaders Training 

Typical of the seekers was Grace.* She pressed the accelerator down asking questions about Jesus. Early on she asked, "I belong to another religion, and I want to know if I can stay in that religion and still follow Jesus?" I explained the impossibility: "Many people think there are many ways to God. But Jesus said:
I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father but through me. Only Jesus, of all gods in all religions, can say that. He is the only one who cared enough to leave heaven, become a human, and die on the cross for your sin so you can have a relationship with Him. You are that valuable to Him. Jesus paid the price for you. That's why He is the only way to God."

She got it. Then she said, "I cannot make a decision now because I know so little about Jesus. I want to learn more about Him." So I explained baptism: "Jesus lived, Jesus died, Jesus rose; and to know Jesus, you must confess that you now live, but you die, and you are raised up with Jesus' life in you. That's what it means to encounter Jesus!" We both got teary when I prayed for her. Then with a big smile she thanked me.

Before the week was over, Grace met Jesus! And other seekers did as well.

Love Breaks Through  


Over the five days with our friends, love broke through. For example: Sonny.* As partners in a game, Sonny and I kept having to yell each other's names: "Sonny!", "Barry!" When we finished he said, "Now you are my new best friend!" Later we talked and laughed at dinner in spite of the language barrier. After dinner he said, "Barry, we love you and we see the love of Jesus in you." Over dessert Sonny leaned toward me and spoke quietly, "Will you pray for my brother Sammy*? He is 24 and in trouble." We had an emotional prayer for God's protection, peace, and victory.


After our last session tears flowed as Karen, Cyrus and I moved from person to person praying for each one. Afterwards Sonny said, "Today is the greatest day in my life." The next day all of us went to church. It was the first time in their lives they had worshiped freely. After church Sonny told me, "Now today is the greatest day in my life!" God's love dramatically broke through like this in each seekers life.  

For more on the Middle East trip check out Reach Out's Facebook
You Enable Reach Out

Our seekers experienced the miracle of encountering Jesus. Last week we trained them to pray for three other seekers like themselves. We equipped them to disciple the people they are praying for. And we challenged them to lead other seekers to Jesus like they were led. From seekers to leaders in their persecuted country in one week. Your gifts and prayers enable Reach Out to do that.


*All names changed and faces not pictured for security reasons. 


Jesus is Lord,  


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