20 February 2017
Christian in Arabian Peninsula defies laws against evangelism by leaving Bibles on doorsteps
A Christian in a strict Muslim country is getting around laws against sharing his faith by leaving Bibles on doorsteps during the night.
Oliver* lives in one of the countries on the Arabian Peninsula where evangelism to Muslims is strictly forbidden. If he was caught giving Bibles to Muslims, he could be deported or even imprisoned.
However, it isn't illegal to help a Muslim read a book he already owns. So Oliver leaves Bibles on doorsteps under the cover of darkness, and comes back later to help those who find them and are interested to learn more. "Just by reading the Gospel, Muslims find Jesus," he says.
Oliver tells the story of a small village that he visited one night, leaving Bibles on doorsteps and praying the words of from Isaiah 55:11 "...so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
A few months later, he went back during the day. He went to a teahouse and ordered a cup of tea amidst a group of local men spending their afternoon siesta there. "You are not from here, are you?" he was asked by the server. Oliver was quick to admit that he is a foreigner.
"So, are you a Muslim?" the server asked. Most people in this village only knew Muslims, and many had never met anyone of another faith. "No, I am not. I'm a Christian," Oliver replied.
One of the other men in the teahouse responded: "A Christian, you say? Can you explain something about the Bible?"
The man confided that a few months before he had found a Bible on his doorstep and that he had been reading it ever since. But he didn't understand all of it. Oliver said, "I don't have a Bible with me, but if you would be so kind as to fetch your copy, I'll be happy to study it with you."
The man ran home to get his Bible and quickly returned. By using this man's Bible, Oliver could ensure he wasn't breaking the law. Other villagers joined the conversation as Oliver led them in their first ever Bible study. After choosing a reading from the gospel of John, Oliver quickly passed the book to one of them. "Please, your Arabic is much better. It's better if you read." For the first time in their lives these men in an isolated area of the Arabian Peninsula read the Gospel out loud.
When Oliver left the village at the end of the day, he had a group of friends. A few weeks later he would return to the village and visit these men and wait for God to open new doors to share the gospel with them.
Oliver is full of stories about the Bible leading Arab Muslims to Christ, often combined with dreams and visions. Over the last few years he has baptised some of these new believers in secret.
On the Arabian Peninsula these believers cannot join an existing church, and often even their family members don't know they follow Christ - in some countries in this region leaving Islam is illegal, and if someone does leave Islam it is seen as bringing shame on the family and community.
But these secret believers have the opportunity to grow in discipleship and to stay connected to the worldwide body of Christ thanks to believers like Oliver. Whenever he can, Oliver connects them and helps them form small groups, literally living out Jesus' words in Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them."
Open Doors supports Oliver with Bibles and discipleship materials to support these new groups.
*name changed for security reasons- ENDS -
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Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians in over 60 countries for over 60 years. Last year it raised approximately $70 million to provide practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources. Open Doors UK & Ireland raised over £11 million.
Every year Open Doors publishes the World Watch List - a ranking of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. This is produced using detailed information provided by Open Doors co-workers in more than 60 countries, as well as independent experts. Data is gathered on five spheres of life - private, family, community, national and church life - plus a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence impacting Christians. Persecution in each country is recorded by Open Doors using a point system. Open Doors' research methods and results have been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom. The 2017 World Watch List accounts for the 12 months ending 31 October 2016.
The Open Doors World Watch List is the only instrument that measures the persecution of Christians annually. Its methodology is designed to track how the exercise of the Christian faith gets squeezed in five distinct areas - private life, family life, community life, national life and church life - as well as covering violence such as rapes, killings and church burnings. Dr. Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, Director of Research at Open Doors International, explains why: "It is possible for persecution to be so intense in all areas of life that Christians fear to witness at all. You may find very low levels of violence as a result, because incidents of violent persecution are often a response to acts of witness."