“We looked at opportunities to serve in South Asia or the Middle East, but God directed us here, specifically to our home town,” says Paul* and adds with a smile, “It’s the one place I told the Lord I would never go. I never had the vision or creativity to imagine what God would do with the unreached here… to strategically open doors that wouldn’t be open if we were overseas.”
“My story is similar to a lot of folks who are working with diaspora peoples… I had to swallow my pride,” he says. “We’d told everybody God has called us to the Muslim world. I thought I’d be a Rambo missionary and go to the hardest places. It has taken number of years to see the long view. Now I’m grateful that God has kept us here, and for the fruit we are able to see.”
The journey began when Paul, his wife, and their small group from church decided to host a game night at the house for international students. “A Saudi student was among those who showed up. The very next day, he called and asked if he could move in with us to improve his English. The next thing we knew he was living with us! He became like part of our family. And, a few weeks later, he said, ‘My cousin is coming from Medina. Can he sleep on the couch for a few nights until he finds an apartment?’”
Through their relationships with these two young men, a network of friendships opened to Paul and his family. In the several years since then they have been able to form meaningful connections with hundreds of Muslim international students. They participate in the student’s lives, host them for meals and take them on outings. Along the way they live out the gospel in their midst and share scripture with those who respond and want to know more.
Please pray for Pioneers like Paul as they walk through these open doors.
Though Paul serves with Pioneers and has the training and vision for a long-term gospel ministry among students like these, he’s glad to equip and work hand-in-hand with volunteers who may have little such experience. We asked Paul what advice he might give American Christians who want to build relationships with Muslims students and other internationals. Read what Paul had to say here.
* Name has been changed.