Three Arab Muslim men in New York City decided to follow Jesus near the beginning of 2020. They obeyed Christ in baptism before the coronavirus pandemic shut New York down.
But God began orchestrating this redemptive work three years ago.
*Majdi, a Christian from North Africa, lived in New Jersey, where he had a thriving ministry. But God told him to move to Queens. He obeyed, left everything in New Jersey, brought his family from North Africa, and moved to Queens.
A man named Brandon and his wife, who are Global Gates missionaries, cried out to God in prayer. They begged him to send more Arabic speakers to join them in Queens. They needed help engaging Arab Muslims with the gospel. God answered their prayers. They received an email from the Metro New York Baptist Association that told them about Majdi, a new arrival to Queens, and asked if they could help him.
Brandon met with Majdi and shared their vision for reaching the nations in New York City. Majdi was on board. His desire to reach Muslims was in line with Global Gates’ mission.
Brandon dropped everything to help Majdi. He helped Majdi, an asylum seeker with limited English, sign up for food stamps and apply for welfare. Majdi and his family suffered persecution, which is why they came to the United States.
As a missionary to Arab Muslims, Brandon knew how important it was for Arab believers to join him in the field. Majdi fit the mold.
The Lord has blessed Majdi with a large online following through social media. Majdi crafts a Holy Spirit-led post that might critique Islam, elevate Jesus, or extol God’s grace. He goes as far to expose the hypocrisy of Islam, Islamic leaders, and politicians in the Muslim world. Majdi then sends the post to his massive following.
Muslims not only in Metro New York but also North Africa interface with his viral content. Dialogue ensues. The responses are positive and negative. Majdi is bold and follows up to arrange meetings.
That is how he encountered a Palestinian Muslim man named *Suleman, who he led to Christ. Suleman lived with his nephew *Nour in New York. At first, Nour was not happy about his uncle meeting with Majdi, but he did not prohibit them from gathering for discipleship. Majdi thought Nour’s lack of opposition might be an open door for the gospel despite his disappointment about his uncle’s conversion.
That proved to be the case. The Holy Spirit intervened in Nour’s life through a dream that drew him to faith in Jesus.
Majdi also shared the gospel with a Muslim from North Africa named *Fatih. He surrendered to Christ around the same time.
These three men wanted to obey Jesus through baptism. Brandon asked them where they wanted to get baptized. He even offered his bathtub, but because Arab Muslims view bathrooms as unclean, they were hesitant. Together, they suggested a local church, one that would not publicize their baptisms online.
Brandon wanted their baptisms to not only glorify God but also show them honor, so he sought help from local churches.
The Body of Christ stepped up to meet this need that transcended denominations. A Presbyterian church connected Brandon with a Southern Baptist church that met in another church’s building, which provided a baptistry.
Brandon and his wife began hosting an Arab-led house church in their home at the end of 2019. This budding body of believers was growing right before their very eyes. It is a safe place for Arab Christians to gather for meals and to study God’s Word. Many of them won’t host a house church for fear of persecution.
These gatherings continued until COVID-19 made them pause from meeting together.
“It seemed like we had some momentum and now it’s stalled,” Brandon said. “But we’ll see what happens when this subsides and we’re able to resume our meetings.”
God continues to move in people’s hearts during this season of pause. Those baptisms are evidence that nothing can hinder his mission – not even a deadly pandemic.
*Names changed for security reasons.
-Ben Doster, Global Gates Director of Communications, email@example.com