Talking about the gospel can be incredibly difficult in places where religion and culture are so deeply intertwined.
Before I worked for Cru, I lived in a place where your religion, or more accurately your parents’ religion, is printed on your birth certificate and any government identification. Your religion is as unchanging as your eye color.
This #GivingTuesday, Cru is asking for donations that will benefit our partners in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia to provide humanitarian aid, resources and opportunities for meaningful, life-changing conversations.
Each year, #GivingTuesday follows Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and each of the days that have been designated for shopping. On Nov. 28, we are asking you to prayerfully consider giving a donation that could effect change in the lives of people in oppressed countries.
Many in these areas don’t understand the idea of following a faith different from their parents’. For them, the gospel is not a potentially transformative truth, but trivial information about the way that people born in Christian homes live their lives. Many grow up hearing misunderstandings and falsehoods about Christian beliefs.
I was often asked why Christians worship three separate Gods, or why the Trinity was made up of Father, Mother and Son. However this misinformation spreads, it leads many to see Christianity as absurd at best or dangerous at worst.
In many regions of the world, evangelism or conversion to another religion is illegal. Where it isn’t illegal, it is often frowned upon. This forces Christians to choose between keeping their new faith a secret, being disowned or even harmed by their family.
Not long ago, Nina* and Ann* were talking with a non-Christian friend named Amal* while on campus in a Middle Eastern university. During their conversation, they noticed a girl pacing behind them but continued talking with Amal about who God was to him.
Before Amal could even respond, the pacing girl came up to them and asked what many in Western countries would have seen as a harmless question.
“Are you missionaries?”
It was a dangerous question for Nina and Ann. They had spent the last year working in a part of the world that has been hard to reach with the gospel.
As soon as the question was asked, the women found themselves in a tight spot. They didn’t want to lie, but they also didn’t want to put themselves or their ministry at risk. After some thought, Nina asked the girl, “What would make you ask that?”
“Well, you were talking about God and Jesus, and that’s what missionaries do,” the girl said.
Nina explained that the Bible encourages all followers of Jesus to tell the world about Him, regardless of their vocation. The girl seemed unsatisfied with this answer, but exchanged information with Nina and left for class.
The next day, Nina and Ann met with the girl, Rafa*, in the school cafeteria. It was then that she revealed that she, too, was a Christian. A high school teacher had read the Bible with her, and through that she accepted Christ five years earlier. Rafa had never told anyone, but felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to talk about her faith with Nina and Ann.
The women shared with Rafa then that there were 15 other Christians on her campus.
Rafa was not alone.
Since that day, Rafa has experienced Christian community, worship, discipleship and evangelism. She has found fellowship among other Christians across her home country. At a student retreat, she shared that she wanted to begin telling people about her faith. Not long after, she revealed her copy of the Bible to her brother.
“If people in our village knew you were reading that, you would be killed,” he told her.
Rather than turning her in, her brother has also started reading the Bible.
So what can you do? Often we hear what’s going on, but not how to help. Just like Rafa’s story, God is doing amazing things all over the world, including in places where it has been difficult to share the gospel.
This #GivingTuesday, your gifts to Cru will be used to help more people in these areas to hear the gospel of Christ, and each gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $30,000. By giving to this campaign, you can be a vital part of what God is doing in and through our partners in oppressed countries.
Our partners are working to provide Bibles and other Christian resources, along with hygiene kits, food kits, blankets and heaters that will help provide aid to refugees in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. We can reach people just as Jesus did, by meeting their physical needs first. When food, emergency supplies and clean water are given in Jesus’ name, people’s hearts are opened to hearing about the love of Christ.
Your support of Cru allows those in hard-to-reach places to know the Lord! Would you prayerfully consider giving sacrificially to play an important role in the work of God?
*Names in this story have been changed for security.
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