For Real?!

I’m not one who passes on those sensationalized, urban-legend-type stories about what God is allegedly doing in a given area. Please understand, though, that I totally expect some sort of massive spiritual awakening to occur in the Middle East during my lifetime and that there are already foretastes of that here and there.

But that’s not the point.

The point is: I don’t like passing things on that (a) aren’t true, (b) paint some sort of phony picture of how deliciously miraculous every moment of every day is, or (c) take away from the reality that sometimes we just have to buckle down and sweat hard to see one measly grape sprout from the vine of our ministry.

But today I want to pass on to you a story I think is pretty cool. I assure you it’s not exaggerated one bit, because I heard it firsthand from two very dear, level-headed friends of mine who are one hundred percent involved in it. To add to the credibility of the story, you should know that it takes place a stone’s throw from my apartment. For real! (If my arms weren't so weak, I could probably throw a rock from my balcony and break these people's window.) Here's the story.

Sixty-five years ago, “Hakeem” was born into a Muslim family. His two older siblings had died, so—reasoning from superstitions—Hakeem’s parents took their infant son to a church and had him baptized—something unheard of and potentially dangerous for Muslim parents to do.

Throughout his life, Hakeem was drawn to Jesus, although he never really knew much about him. As a child, when he was scared he would occasionally run to a church and hide in the back to feel safe—again, something extremely odd for a Muslim to do. As far as I know, he had no involvement with true followers of Jesus for most of his life.

Around the age of 55, through Christian broadcasts, Hakeem came to embrace the truth about Jesus. He had no real believers with whom to interact on a personal level—only the broadcasts and the Spirit of God. Under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, he grew in his faith, and soon his whole family began to follow Jesus with him. A few years ago they all actively started to share their beliefs with other Muslims.

Just a few months ago, Hakeem began to realize he needed help with all that was happening, so he wrote to the Christian station to see if they could send someone to assist him. Station personnel contacted my friend “Ray,” who went to meet Hakeem.

As Ray sat with the now-65-year-old man, Hakeem began to pull out papers that contained the names of numerous people and showed how these people were networked together. It was like a family tree, with branches sprouting off here and there.

It was a chart of the fifty-five Muslim followers of Jesus for whom Hakeem was responsible…because he, one of his family members, or one of the newer believers had led them to Jesus! With absolutely no help—no in-person input from a single Christian, Hakeem had been “pastoring” all these people, who were spread out among multiple reproducing house groups throughout the city! 

For real? For real! But that’s not all.

Since Ray has been helping Hakeem for the last few months (I emphasize the word “helping,” because Ray emphasizes that Hakeem does not need Ray teaching him or showing him what to do, since the Holy Spirit has done a stellar job of that), the number of believers has grown from 55 to 124!

For real! I’m not exaggerating. Ray and his wife told me the update to this amazing story two weeks ago. I’m sure there are even more believers by now.

Ray, his wife, and I just laughed and laughed as we talked about how it just flies in the face of our whole paradigm for how God is supposed to work. Oh, how important and knowledgeable we think we are, but really…hmmm…

Please ask the Holy Spirit to breathe even more life into Hakeem's ministry. More, Lord, more!

Rachel Fields (pseudonym) has lived in the Middle East since 2003. She leads a church-planting team and  is the assistant director of an English center which accommodates about four hundred students per course. Her passion is to see a church-planting movement among Muslims in the Middle East.