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From Stone to Soil

Alycia DeLong /Tuesday, January 24, 2023


This story is from another country, but the principles in it are transferable. In fact, the authors of this story have moved from the place where this story took place and now are based in Saskatchewan, where they are exploring how to put these same principles into practice here in Canada. God is using these simple strategies to draw people to himself all over the world. Why not here in Canada?

Danny had barely started his coffee when the man entered the café. Instantly, the atmosphere of the entire room changed: Everyone seemed to stiffen up a bit straighter and breathe with a bit more unease as they glanced inconspicuously amongst each other and the man’s towering silhouette standing in the doorway. Almost as broad as he was tall, his shadow cast over other tables as he walked down the aisle and straight to where Danny was sitting.

“Are you Danny?” the man asked gruffly. It would not have been a difficult task to identify him – Danny was the only foreigner in the café.

“Yes,” replied Danny, standing to greet the man, but still having to look upwards to make eye-contact with this giant of a human. “You must be Altan*?”

The man nodded.

“Thanks for coming to meet me. Please, sit.”

Altan made the regular sized café table and chair look like children’s furniture as he sat down. Danny could tell by his clothes that he had probably just come from work, and that it was physical work. His thick pants were stained with a collage of dirt, paint, concreate, and grease. His shirt matched but added sweat and smell to the mix. The worn-out cap on his head bore the same company emblem as his jacket and sat limply on top of his scruffy, weathered face.

For the first few minutes they sat in silence. Altan didn’t seem to be bothered by the lack of conversation, and Danny was still trying to process this hulk of a human that was sitting across from him.

“So,” began Danny, “You ordered a Bible from us a few months ago. Did you receive it?”

“Uh huh,” grunted Altan.

“Well, that’s good,” said Danny. “Have you had a chance to read any of it yet?”


“Did you look at any of the study guides with it?” Danny asked.


“Have you ever talked to anyone else in your family about thoughts or questions you have about God?” Danny asked, still trying to coax a conversation out of this guy.


It was becoming more and more apparent that Altan was not only a tower of stone on the outside, but on the inside as well. Danny was running out of ideas, so in a last-ditch effort he asked:

“We could do one of the studies together right now, if you want,” he said.

Altan took a sip from his coffee mug and set it down on the table, never breaking eye contact with Danny.


Well, this had been a complete waste of time, thought Danny, but if he’s just going to sit here anyway…

Danny pulled a Turkish Bible out of his bag.

“This is what we usually do at these kinds of meetings with people,” and began to go through the first study for him.

Danny finished up the study, set the Bible down on the table, and said, “And that’s the first one. Any questions?”

Altan stared at Danny, who had been expecting the “Nah” that was the usual response.

But Altan sat in silence, almost like he was waiting. Finally, he spoke.

“Is that it?” He asked, leaning forward in his chair.

“Uhhhh,” Danny was taken aback by his sudden interest. “Yeah, that’s it.”

Altan sat straight up in his chair and his face flushed with the sudden rush of emotion.

“This is nothing like I thought it was going to be! And it’s all in my language?!?!? I mean, I could do this! I could read this! I could even read this to all my family and friends!” he exclaimed.

“Well, that’s the general idea,” Danny says, a little weirded out by the man’s sudden change of demeanor. “What were you expecting?”

Altan told the story of his childhood in a very traditional Islamic village, and how, in his early teens, he was sent to a “Madrasa,” a strict Islamic school for boys. They had to memorize the Quran in Arabic perfectly, and one mistake would result in being hit with a rod by the imam, and other forms of punishment. After three years of memorizing the Quran over and over again, he understood nothing of it because, like the majority of the other boys there, he didn’t speak Arabic. The only god he had every been taught about was one he could never know, but on this day, with tears in his eyes, he had learned that God speaks his language and wants to talk to him, listen to him, and give him a new life.

Find out more about Discovery Bible Studies and the app we use at

*Names have been changed

Alycia DeLong and her husband, Danny, have been involved in overseas missions for over 20 years. In 2015, they moved to the Middle East, focusing on discipleship multiplication ministry in unreached areas. They were there until last August when they returned to Canada with their two children. Now both Alycia and Danny are on staff at the Regina Apostolic Church, Alycia in creative design and Danny as Pastor of Global Initiatives.



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