People from all over Central Asia send us messages with questions about Jesus. They watch our TV programs and take our online Bible courses and then they write to us with their questions or their objections. Often they request literature. Sometimes they ask for a visit. We do our best to respond to these requests. Recently, I went with another brother into a remote part of Central Asia where several people had invited us into further discussion about the person of Jesus and the message of the Gospel.
Soon after we arrived into the area, a journalist approached us. But once we were alone with him, we were surrounded by local police. We had no idea that the man was only posing as a journalist and was actually a member of an international terrorist group. When the police were convinced that we were not terrorists ourselves, they left us alone with the man and we shared the Gospel with him for about two hours.
That night, we met another man in the city center. His name was Mahmoud and he told us that he was an atheist. He invited us to meet with him in his house. At first, we were hesitant to go, because it seemed unsafe, but we went regardless and spent more than three hours talking with him. He had many sincere questions about Jesus and we were able to answer most of them. We did our best to discuss our beliefs about God and to give him a summary of the Bible.
Mahmoud had been educated at some of the top universities in Central Asia. After getting advanced degrees in Philosophy and Anthropology, he moved to this area to study Russian Language and Literature. Mahmoud told us that he had read more than 2000 books. “I was only thirteen years old when I first read the Quran,” he told us, “and since then I have been an atheist.”
Finally, I told him, “We could debate until the morning, because you have so many great and deep questions. Even if I could answer them all, something would still be missing. What really matters is your heart; it all ends there. Just talk to God. If you can’t pray, just talk to him. He helped me and he will help you too.” Then we prayed over Mahmoud and left his home. It was after midnight.
Back at our hotel, we took the opportunity to share the Gospel with the hotel manager, who was the owner’s son. For two hours, we talked with him about what it meant to follow Jesus. God touched his heart, but he was afraid. He said, “If I choose to follow Jesus, my family will kill me.”
The next morning, we traveled back to our home. As soon as we arrived, we received a call from Mahmoud. He explained, “As I told you, I have been an atheist since I was young. And in all of my reading, I only became more and more convinced that miracles do not happen. But when you prayed for me last night, something happened. When I went to sleep, Jesus came to me in a dream. Now I am ready to accept him.”
The next day, Mahmoud called a second time. This time, his voice was trembling. “Jesus came to me again in the night and called me by name,” he said. “I tried to touch him, but I couldn’t. Then Jesus turned and walked away.”
“Jesus is inviting you to follow him,” we told Mahmoud, “and following means learning to trust him.”
From that time, Mahmoud has not looked back. He is quickly growing in his faith. We have sent him many books and New Testaments. He reads them all and then passes them on to others. When we send him one book, he goes and makes one hundred copies and distributes them all.
Last week, we had the opportunity to take Mahmoud with us on a ministry trip to another region. Together, we shared the Gospel with many people. On one occasion, Mahmoud shared the Gospel with a man named Salim who immediately decided to follow Jesus. There is no church in Salim’s town, so he has to travel more than two hours to meet with other believers. One by one, people are coming to faith in Jesus and learning to trust in him. Each one needs support and encouragement.