You Don’t Need a Passport to Reach the Unreached

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Amy* lives in the southern United States, but her personal ministry spans the Middle East. She’s part of a new missions frontier that is opening digital doors to introduce people to Christ in areas where political and ideological doors have long been closed. Amy’s online friends live in Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other places in the region where physical access to the Gospel is severely limited.

We spoke with Amy to learn about her heart, her ministry, and how others can join her in crossing the digital frontier.

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Crescent Project: How did God capture your heart for Muslims?

Amy: It began in 2016 when I was invited by a friend to attend the Without Borders women’s conference. I signed up mainly to get away for a fun weekend with my friend, but also thought I’d learn about Muslim women since a close friend was moving to the Middle East. I had never met a Muslim woman, and really didn’t have much interest in meeting one.

God captured my heart the first night when the speaker shared from Ezekiel 34 and John 10, about the sheep from another fold. Jesus wanted to bring them into His fold so there would be one Shepherd and one flock. She said that Muslim women were the lost sheep, just as we all were before He rescued and saved us.

The challenge was that I’m in the fold, He is my shepherd, so I’m safe in my sheep pen. But I had created walls of apathy and fear toward Muslim women. I was shown the truth that the majority of Muslim women are very peaceful and hospitable, and they needed an authentic Christian witness to show them Christ’s love. How are they going to have that if I’m not going to let those walls be torn down?

CP: How did you start to connect with Muslim women after the conference?

A: A year before I attended Without Borders, as I was looking at my daughter’s upcoming college courses, a thought entered my mind—‘if I had to do it all over again, I would like to teach English to immigrant adults.’ I don’t even know why I thought that. I’d never had that thought before. But now I know that was Jesus who placed that little seed of desire to teach English!

I had initially signed up with Reach Beyond’s English Conversation Project when I attended Without Borders. Through this I was connected to two women in a closed country. But I felt the Lord pulling on my heart to have more friends in these closed countries.

I first heard about Embassy (a Crescent Project ministry connecting Christians to Muslims in closed nations through social media) through listening to a Crescent Project podcast. Over a year later at the Crescent Project National conference I attended a breakout session about how to reach Muslims online: by developing friendships first, then praying for open doors to share Jesus.

Some of my [Muslim] friends share how they’ve had dreams of speaking English to native English speakers. One of my local friends even prayed during Ramadan for God to send her an English conversation partner; she shared that I was the answer. Another—an online friend—waited an entire year, she told me, to finally find me.

God took my desire to teach English conversation, and their desire to learn it with a native English speaker, then connected us on a free social media app. It amazes me how He’s using English and technology to reach into closed countries for His purposes, so unreached people will have that authentic Christian witness that’s so needed.

CP: Without compromising anyone’s identity, can you share a bit about your friends?

A: The majority of the women are under age 30. Many are university students needing to improve their English skills for job opportunities or for migrating to English speaking countries. They’re very intelligent women with interests in engineering, chemistry, computer science, pharmacy and dentistry, just to name a few.

We’ve talked about our cultures, Islam, families, love and marriage, friendships, forgiveness, fears and struggles, prayer and fasting, and what it looks like for me to be a follower of Jesus.

For many of these younger women I’ve been like an older sister, or a second mother. They feel safe with me. It really has been easy for us to get to know one another. They’ve been so warm and kind to me, and I love getting to know them and their culture.

CP: Did you have any fears or hesitations about meeting people on social media from areas many consider dangerous or “hostile?” How did you move past them?

A: The only hesitancy or insecurity is that I don’t speak English well myself, with my thick southern accent!

I can honestly say that Without Borders helped tremendously. When I returned home after that weekend I was definitely ready to meet my first friend. My hesitations and fears have never returned since that conference, because God really did capture my heart. He gets all the credit.

CP: How have you started conversations about faith and Christianity?

A: I’ll listen first, then share some of my faith. It’s always been respectful. I’ve found that it’s much easier to discuss my faith with Muslims compared to non-Muslims.

Many of my friends are cultural Muslims so they don’t even know why they believe, or they haven’t read the Quran. But they’re open with sharing their beliefs. They’re also very open to prayer and discussions of prayer, especially during Ramadan.

Another way to start conversations toward faith and Christianity is when they share their struggles and fears. I’ve sent verses to them on text here and there. And I’ve prayed with several and shared the Magdalena film.

CP: Can you share a story or two of how God has used your conversations in the women’s lives?

A: My friend who I’ve known the longest has no sisters, and she’s said I’m her best friend. I feel like God has helped build that friendship and trust first, and she is probably closest to coming to the Lord. For the past year she’s questioned Islam and changed some of her beliefs. I challenged her last August, “If you really are searching, ask God to show you the right path.” She’s trusted me in that advice and has been praying. A couple of times I’ve felt like she’s finally going to come into the fold. One of my friends read through John’s Gospel. I had asked her, and she respected me and wanted to know more about my faith. She told me, “I told my sister that some of these things we’ve heard about Christians aren’t true.”

CP: How has God transformed you through this ministry?

A: I’ve never had this great a passion for any other ministry I’ve been a part of. There’s no doubt that He planted that desire to teach immigrants the year before, and had me at Without Borders to capture my heart for Muslim women.

He has also greatly increased my prayer life. Not just prayers alone, but praying with other sisters in Christ who share the same heart to reach Muslim women. Also fasting with prayer. I rarely fasted before this ministry, and now I fast several or more days a month.

I’ve also gained a much deeper awareness and reliance on the Holy Spirit to guide my conversations and give me ideas or topics or verses to discuss.

CP: How much time each week do you spend in conversation with your friends?

A: It varies from week to week and friend to friend. Usually about 45 minutes to one hour a week per friend in phone conversations, and some texts in between phone calls. With some friends I’ll have conversations twice a month, or once a month.

CP: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in trying to communicate Christ with Muslims, and what have you learned from it?

A: I would say it is a mistake, and I have made this several times, to ever think that I share Christ on my own. It has to be supported by my fervent prayers, and the prayers of a few prayer partners he has greatly blessed me with. I need to pause and pray before each conversation: “Lord, guide me, use me.”

CP: How would you encourage other Christians to join you in reaching unreached Muslims online?

A: I would like to encourage readers to pray first about setting aside one hour a week that you normally would use on social media, and dedicate it to the Lord to reach one unreached Muslim. God has made it so easy for us to reach them: English and social media. They need an authentic Christian witness to share the hope only found in Jesus. Will you be the one to reach one?

*Name changed for security purposes