Overcoming Fear in the Mosque on the Hill
The urgency to ‘Pray and Go’ until the whole world hears is imprinted in this story, which started among refugees in the height of a civil war. What started as a ‘medical relief mobile clinic project’, expanded. A YWAM-FM leader saw refugees hungry for the Bible and the teaching of God’s word. By overcoming fear, he saw breakthrough. Philip’s story in Acts 8 and Josef’s* story in 2012 display the same urgency to take the Good News of the Gospel to the least, last and lost.
“Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replied. “How can I unless someone instructs me? And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.”
Acts 8: 30b-31
Radical Extremists Generated Fear
Josef recounts how the story started – “In 2012, a project requested by a German relief organization for refugees in the midst of a civil war was drafted. It was completed and accepted. The region was open for help. The project focused on the most unreached area in the region. This was an area were radical extremists in the area generated great fear. Christian groups were hesitant to go in and extend help to the desperately needy refugees.”
60% of the Refugees Lived in This Area
The project was approved and funds were released. The relief organization saw the immediate need for the area. They also recognized problems that could arise. 60% of the refugees lived in that area. There were also security concerns due to the intense presence of radicals. The project required a low profile. The relief organization could not coordinate the project and asked Josef to help. He agreed to coordinate the project, and approached YWAM who approved the request, and released Josef and his team to go to serve.
The Mosque on the Hill Belongs to Rebels
After six months of evaluation and interaction God opened a door. They approached a village mayor through a medical mobile clinic, with doctors and nurses who came to serve. They inquired where the best location was to serve the refugees. The mayor informed them that the municipality was the place to address and meet those needs. He told them the mosque on the hill, which belongs to the rebel group, had the largest number of people with the greatest need.
Josef did not make a decision immediately. After praying and seeking God overnight, he came to a decision the next morning. They would go where the needs were greatest.
Josef and the entire medical team journeyed to the mosque on the hill to see what God had planned. It was a very challenging journey. They needed discernment. Making their way to the top, they asked to speak with a leader.
They told the leader they were a Christian relief team of doctors and nurses who came to serve the refugees. The leader wanted to know who sent them. They said they came on their own after hearing of the need. The leader’s response was harsh but honest. He said, “I do not trust Christians to deal with the people alone. I need to be present with the medical team during the time they are there.” As long as he could be present, he would allow them to help. They spent the entire day serving forty-three families in one mosque, then left.
Josef knew he had to go back. After two weeks, he contacted the leader, Abu Sharif*, and asked if he could return to the region with his team. They were welcomed back, and this was the beginning of several journeys to the mosque on the hill. The German relief project ended, but the call as YWAM Frontier Missions did not. They prayed as a team and prepared themselves to return. God provided an offering. They bought food and made relief packages for the refugee families.
What Does it Mean to Be a Pastor?
Abu Sharif was contacted, and the team were again welcomed. This time there were almost seventy families in the mosque. Once they finished, Josef and his team were invited to sit and have tea inside the mosque with the Islamic leader. He accepted the invitation. Before leaving he was asked a question by Abu Sharif. “You told me you are a pastor, can you share with me one day what it means to be a pastor.” That was the question Josef had been waiting for! It was the divine key that opened the door to why God brought Josef and his team to the mosque on the hill.
Jesus is More Important
Josef explained that a pastor’s position was not as important as knowing Jesus. He asked Abu Sharif if he wanted to know about Jesus. His answer was yes. Josef invited him to step outside and he would share with him, but he declined. He said it would not be fair for him to be the only one hearing about Jesus, when the mosque was full with people. Josef accepted his invitation to share about Jesus in the mosque. He shared the message of God’s plan of salvation. It was translated into Arabic for all who had gathered. This was a big moment!
Who is the Leader?
As Josef and the team said their goodbyes, Abu Sharif asked them, “I heard that Christians pray. Can you pray for us?” Josef questioned him about the wisdom of him praying in the mosque and also wanted to have the leader’s permission. He explained that he was the leader and he was the one making the request for prayer, so they had nothing to worry about. After prayer they immediately left.
About a month later, Josef was in the region with some hygiene kits and Bibles. They made contact with Abu Sharif and went to visit. When he asked how many Bibles they had, Josef was filled with fear. He told him he only had three Bibles.
Abu Sharif said he had 200 people in the mosque. Three bibles were not enough! When Josef confessed that he was fearful, Abu Sharif reminded him that he was the leader of the mosque making the requests for Bibles. Josef gave him all the Bibles he needed.
I Had a Dream of Jesus
The next time Josef was in the region, he met with Abu Sharif again. The mosque leader kissed his shoulder, a show of honor among Arabs. It shocked Josef to receive this kind of honor from an Islamic leader. He wanted to know the reason he was being honored in this way.
Abu Sharif shared that in his 55 years of life, he had never received such blessing without being expected to give something back. He said Islamic charities wanted payment for the things they provided. Abu Sharif shared that he had a dream. In it Jesus told him that Josef was the one who would lead him. This Islamic leader organized a weekly meeting with Josef at a convenient place where they could study the Bible.
Josef used the Discovery Bible Study method during his meetings with Abu Sharif. Five other leaders, invited by Abu Sharif are now a part of the regular Discovery Bible Study (DBS) where he shares the good news with those who attend.
God used Josef to reach someone who most people would be afraid of. He overcame His fear and listened to God. His compassion for the refugees in the area compelled him to take action. Fear could have paralyzed him, but instead he acted in courage and obedience.
What fears are keeping you from reaching out to Muslims in your area? Or to refugees in need? Ask God to give you courage and faith. He can use you in the same way He used Josef. You could be the catalyst for a new movement of disciples to begin in an unreached people group.
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*Not their real names