Living and ActiveAlycia DeLong
/Wednesday, February 8, 2023
On an isolated hillside surrounded by miles of forest and mountains, Murat* found a large rock to sit down and take a break. He’d been trekking though the uneven terrain all day keeping a protective eye on his sheep and goats. Although there were no established roads, he and other members of his community had worn many paths throughout the area over the years as they had a long history of herding livestock there. They knew where to lead their flocks to and when, how to maneuver the rocky foothills, pace themselves for the long, winding trails, and everything else it took to make sure the job got done.
Murat reached into his coat pocket, pulled out his phone and raised it up in the air as high as he could looking for a service signal. Most of the other shepherds that Murat worked with were relatives: brothers, cousins, uncles, and other connections. Despite being separated for most of the days, they were a very close family. They regularly checked in with one another when they could get reception on their cell phones. In the late evenings, when all the livestock was safely returned to the stalls, they would all gather again on the homestead.
Over the past few months, though, something had changed. Murat had been doing some soul-searching and came across a website that offered access to the Bible. He signed up and began getting text messages every few days of a Bible verse from the New Testament, followed by four simple questions: What does this tell me about God? What does this tell me about mankind? How can I obey this scripture? Who can I share this scripture with?
Most of the scriptures had to do with Jesus, of whom Murat had heard of before in the Quran, but never in this way!
- This Jesus was poor, but rich men sought his power!
- This Jesus was meek but had the power to cast out demons and heal the sick!
- This Jesus was human but had the holy authority to forgive sins and redeem souls!
- This Jesus died but rose again!
Murat stood up from his rocky seat and continued to wave his phone in the air. Usually, the scripture messages came through around this time and he found himself looking forward to them. It was like the more he learned the more he wanted to know – almost as if something was speaking directly to his heart…
*Ding* came the sound from his phone. Opening his messages, Murat saw it was from the man who always sent him the verses. He was obviously a foreigner, judging by his name, but Murat didn’t know much else about him.
Murat eagerly clicked on the message but was quickly disappointed and a bit thrown off when he saw it wasn’t a Bible scripture but an actual message from the foreigner man himself.
“Hello sir,” the message began, “I am just checking to see if you are receiving or wanting to continue receiving these scriptures on a regular basis. I’ve never heard any response from you since I started sending these messages to you a few months ago, but I hope you are well and blessed. Sincerely, Danny.”
It had never really occurred to Murat to actually respond to these messages, he was often just so caught up in the scriptures, he forgot about the foreigner man who sent them. Sitting back down on the rock, he began to type:
“Hello sir. Nice to meet you. I definitely wish you to continue to send me these scriptures from the Bible! Not only am I reading them, but I forward them to all my family as well. We are constantly talking about this and Jesus! In fact, if I send you their numbers, can you add them to your list and send them scripture messages too?”
The text messages continued back and forth for a while as Murat told Danny about their small, hidden community in a remote area, and how these verses about Jesus were nothing like they’d ever heard before! They had so many questions!
“We would all love it if you could come here and meet with us,” Murat excitedly invited his new foreign friend.
Meanwhile, miles away in the city, Danny sat at his dining room table; laptop and cell phone open, sending out hundreds of scriptures and follow-up messages to the thousands of Muslim seekers who have requested more information about Jesus through this same website.
Looking up from his work, he called to his wife in the other room.
“Hey, Alycia,” he said, “You won’t believe the conversation I just had!”
*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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