Sometimes it seems bad news is all we hear. A friend’s divorce. A child’s failing health. A co-worker’s suicide.
We wish the uplifting stories we read about in the Bible would come to life in our world today. We yearn for peace on earth and for God’s favor to rest on His people. The night is long and the dawn stays out of reach.
But let me tell you, God is at work-even among women married to radical religious fighters! When I heard Salma* speak, I sat in silent awe. She gave testimony to the incredible power of God to turn hopeless darkness into glorious light.
Salma and her husband, Misbah, are from the Middle East. They have been giving humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees for years. After winning the trust of many, Salma and Misbah arranged for a showing of “Magdalena: Released From Shame” for the women. Because they held the showing in a church, they expected perhaps 25 women to come-at most.
A black sea
Salma related: “When we arrived at the church, I was in complete shock. There was a sea of black in the sanctuary. Women in their traditional dress, covered from head to toe, sat shoulder to shoulder, packed in tightly. There wasn’t a seat left-about 200 women. I was afraid. They were nearly all wives of radical men. I feared that when they realized I was about to show them a Christian film, they might kill me. ‘Lord, this is in Your hands’, I prayed.”
“I went to the front before them. And their eyes-they were filled with hate. ‘Lord, only You can do this. This is Your problem to own and to solve.’ I started projecting the film onto the screen. I fully expected some to bolt, to leave the building angrily, perhaps many of them. But no one moved, not an inch.
“‘Magdalena’ came to the crucifixion scene. They were transfixed, eyes focused, ears hearing. Then came the resurrection of Jesus, another offensive concept. Everyone stayed-not one woman left-they were taking it all in.
“He gave me boldness”
“When the film ended, I went to the front of the room and prayed silently, ‘Lord, You are in control. I can’t do this.’ He gave me boldness.
“‘I know you have lost your homes, all your possessions, and some of you, your husbands and sons. I know you are hurting. But God has brought you here. You have seen the God who loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you. You have a choice to make this day.’
“Then I lifted my left arm and pointed to my left, and this came out of my mouth, by the Holy Spirit: ‘You can either follow the dead founder of your religion and go to hell, or,’ pointing to my right with my other arm outstretched, ‘you can receive Jesus, the living God who died for you and was raised to life. You can receive Him and have eternal life. Would you pray with me if you want to follow Jesus?’
“As I prayed the sinner’s prayer, there was weeping among them, many tears. They were saying ‘Yeshua,’ ‘Jesus,’ ‘Isa is the true way, the true God.’ I couldn’t believe it. I then asked those who wanted to follow Jesus to raise their hands. Not one, not 20, but all of them raised their hands! They all decided to follow Jesus!
“We are loved!”
“They began to take off their head coverings. Their angry, hopeless stares were gone. Released from shame, they were beaming with joy. They began hugging one another and me, saying ‘Thank you, thank you … for the first time in our lives we know we are loved!’
“Many spoke up, ‘We want to show this DVD to our families and our friends in our refugee neighborhoods. Can we have our own DVDs?’
“We had brought only 60 extra DVDs. But there was such demand that we sent one of our team back to the warehouse to get more. We gave them all we had in store, 2,500 DVDs of ‘JESUS’! The Lord did this!”
Since that historic showing, Salma and Misbah have been helping to place these women into secret Bible studies and fellowship groups so they will grow in their faith and become witnesses to their own families.
So yes, my friend, the night is long. God does seem slow to answer some prayers. But He is moving. He has not forgotten us. He is with us.
He is bringing His message of love and peace to those who for so long have shunned it.
How glorious is our God!
*Names have been changed for the security of the individual.