It is not easy – nor safe, nor simple – to live in the Middle East as a Muslim background believer in Jesus. And even though Israel offers its residents a lot more freedom and diversity than her neighbors, one still must remain careful and wise. That is why the following story should both inspire you and encourage to pray.
Who are Muslim Background Believers?
Muslim background believers (MBB) in the land of Israel are not in trouble with the state. But they may face hardships (and often do) in their own communities or even from their families. That is why many congregate in secret or connect with other believers online.
Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Unabashedly Amir, an MBB, is living out this commandment in the streets of Jerusalem. He did not know the Gospel growing up, but today, he is an aspiring pastor and evangelist who is passionate about unity, reconciliation, and people coming to know Jesus.
And especially those with a similar background as his own! There is a unique group of people in the Middle East who grew up Muslim, but at some point in their lives came to know Jesus as their God and Savior.
Some were born into Muslim families but felt no real connection to Islam. When they heard the Gospel, they were immediately intrigued and wanted to know more about this God who became man. Others grew up practicing Islam but started questioning their beliefs and Jesus found them on their quest. And finally, there are Muslims who supernaturally saw or heard Jesus Himself in a dream or vision.
The Way of Abraham
One of our local ministry partners, Derech Avraham (the Way of Abraham), has been helping Amir reach fellow Arabs of Muslim background with the Gospel. His apartment has become a hub of ministry. It is a place where he meets with Muslims who are being drawn to Jesus, especially those who are uneasy about meeting in public.
Derech Avraham helps Amir keep his apartment stocked with food where he invites people to come to hear about Jesus. A lot of the Muslim background believers find it most comfortable to meet privately like this. They want to relax and worship without suspicions.
But once a week, a small group of Jewish believers, Arab Christians and MBBs meet also at a Christian church in the Old City. They pray, give testimonies, encourage one another and team up for outreach.
Where There is a Need…
Many Palestinians from Gaza come to Jerusalem seeking medical treatment for life-threatening conditions. These patients usually stay in the city for 2-3 months at a time. And they have very limited resources to support themselves while they are here.
The patients are often very weak from treatment, like chemotherapy, and simple tasks can feel daunting to accomplish alone. Amir saw this as an opportunity to reveal the love of Jesus – to meet their practical and spiritual needs. With Christian support, Amir and his team are providing for their medical expenses and care, and sometimes even housing.
“There’s a hotel where people from Gaza stay when they’re in Jerusalem for medical treatment,” Amir shared. “They hardly have any money or food… so we bring food, we sing, and they ask me to pray. They are amazed that followers of Jesus care about them. Even the Muslim hotel owner tells me ‘Come! Whatever you want, we’ll help you.’”
Amir retells a story when he was able to bring some light into the lives of visitors from Gaza. They asked Amir about praying at the Al-Aqsa mosque, but he already had an answer ready for them. “It doesn’t matter where you pray, if you belong to God and you walk His path. He created the whole world!”
After sharing his faith with his new friends, Amir knew exactly where to take them in Jerusalem. “I didn’t take them to Al-Aqsa. Instead, we went to the Garden Tomb!”
Are There Muslim Background Believers in Gaza?
Amir, with other Muslim background believers, is able to serve 70-80 people at a time. Together, these faithful disciples continue to follow up with their new Palestinian friends even after their treatment is over and they return home. Many become “ambassadors of peace” within Gaza and more than ever, they need our prayers.
“I can’t enter Gaza, but they all have computers or smartphones, so we stay in touch. There are many problems, but people are coming to faith,” Amir continued. “I’ve never seen such a time when Muslim hearts are so open all around the world! I think it’s because of all the damage that ISIS has done.”
But it is not just ISIS. As you know, the last couple months have been very intense in Israel. Rockets, riots, and the political transition have caused a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. Men and women of all backgrounds are searching for something to believe and hold on to.
And Amir is relentless in his work: “Please pray that I’ll be able to continue to meet people, and they will continue to be open to receive Jesus.”
Muslim Background Believers, Messianic Jews, and more
Derech Avraham is used to regularly welcoming to Jerusalem believers of all backgrounds: Jews, Arabs, Copts, Armenians, Kurds, Turks, Iranians and Egyptians… They all want to learn more about their Jewish Messiah and followed Him to the City of the King. But because of the pandemic, all such gatherings had to be postponed.
Nevertheless, Derech Avraham and people like Amir continue ministering all across the region. Thanks to the generosity of Christians worldwide, just recently they were able to start new projects. They will assist in funding more Palestinians from Gaza to arrive in Israel to receive life-saving medical attention, as well as to be introduced to the love of Jesus.
And this is just the beginning.
This article originally appeared on FIRM, July 20, 2021, and reposted with permission.