UNREACHED

People of the Messiah: Miracles and the Spread of Christianity in the Middle East and North Africa

October 04, 2023 UNREACHED Season 1 Episode 6
UNREACHED
People of the Messiah: Miracles and the Spread of Christianity in the Middle East and North Africa
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever wondered how the gospel is making its way into the hearts and minds of people in the Middle East and North Africa? Buckle up for a riveting journey with our guest, John Samara from Ananias House, as we traverse through 12 countries, impacting over 500 million lives, and explore the fascinating landscape of Christianity in this region. Listen to how the church responded to the devastation wrought by a recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria, and marvel at the miraculous stories of Jesus' presence even before the church could step in to help.

Hope and faith take the spotlight in this episode, as we discuss the shifting sands of Christianity in the Middle East and North Africa over the last 1400 years. Discover how the gospel is reaching those in search of God, and the central role played by the local churches in offering prayer, support, and protection to the vulnerable. Hear about the transformative work of Ananias House in providing educational opportunities, legal aid, and safeguarding children and women at risk.

Prepare to have your minds blown as we delve into the intriguing phenomenon of "Ishmael's Cry" and unravel the miracles unfolding in the Muslim world. Our guest John recounts captivating stories of God revealing himself through dreams, visions, and miracles, fuelling a spiritual awakening among the Muslim people in the region. We wrap up with a deeply moving personal story from John's family of spreading the gospel in war zones and a heartfelt call to participate in this vital work. Join us and Ananias House in this mission to make a lasting impact.

Check out www.ananiashouse.org/ to dive deeper and find the resources mentioned in this episode. 

Follow @unreachedpodcast on Instagram for more!

Dustin Elliott:

In Revelation 7, john shares his vision of heaven, with members from every tribe, tongue, people and language standing in the throne room before the Lamb. Yet today there are still over 7,000 unreached people groups around the world. For the last six years, my family and friends have been on a journey to find, vet and fund the task remaining. Come journey with us to the ends of the earth as we share the supernatural stories of God at work through the men and women he has called to reach the unreached. Hello friends, welcome back to the Unreach podcast.

Dustin Elliott:

Dustin Elliott here, your host and I have got one of my really good friends in town in Austin, texas, today, all the way from Damascus, syria, my friend John. I want to tell you a little bit about John before I introduce him. We met John and Ananias House back in 2018, kind of year two of bless as we were searching for mission partners. They work specifically out of Damascus, syria, in the MENA region, m-e-n-a, middle East, north Africa. They primarily work in 12 countries representing over 500 million people. They work pretty much totally in the Muslim region of the world. John, tell us a little bit about you and what you're up to. Thank you, dustin.

John Samara:

It's an honor to be with you all and thank you for the opportunity to share I'm John, obviously with the ministry called Ananias House, based on Acts 9, just kind of to clarify.

John Samara:

It's represent the obedience of the body of Christ, the obedience of Ananias when he was hiding in the we read it in Acts 9 where he was hiding as he heard soul coming to town and the Lord appeared to him, said I want you to go and find this radical who is coming to beat you up.

John Samara:

Go find him and lay the hand and pray for him, because he will be my witness and it's very hard for Ananias to obey, but he obeyed and he found soul.

John Samara:

He want to do this house and went, found soul, lay the hand and prayed in the skull for hour of his eyes and just the whole story of the ministry of about the obedience of the body of Christ and that part of the world, their obedience that we're seeing radical being transformed, but not because God is using the body of Christ in the church there and to be the voice and to the tool in the hand of feet of Christ. So we represent the body of Christ in the Meena region, middle Eastern North Africa, and as we take the gospel, we work and to journey with them is a holistic view image of the church where we walk spiritually because the church is growing wide and also support that. So they're surviving the midst of hardship and persecution, so they can survive and be sustainable and remain in the region, because the more people come to faith, the more hardship and persecution exist and because of that we stand with them so they can survive those circumstances.

Dustin Elliott:

That's beautiful work that you do. I think a key part of Ananias house's strategy is you work with the local churches to equip and empower them to serve people more. You're not trying to make Ananias house name great.

John Samara:

Absolutely not. You know that we go on the field. They don't know Ananias house, they know the church. But we empower the name of the church, the name of the gospel, and so that they become the place, the church, the body of Christ, which is the body of Christ. Right, this is the church. It's the place of healing, hope and restoration and we come alongside that so the church can be the place of hope, healing and restoration for the gospel to go out through the church and we can conquer way beyond just making an Ananias house name known. But we are just a bridge between you here and them there, so we can build the body of Christ and empower them in a way.

Dustin Elliott:

Can you give me just a list of some of the countries that you're working in so we can get a just a more specific kind of a name recognition of where you are? So you're located in Damascus, syria, one of the oldest cities.

John Samara:

We started, we initiated, that's how the movement launched, but then we're not there just because of all the chaos we are involved in and we are still involved in the spiritual empowering, the training, the church there, and we are involved in 12 nations right now, from Pakistan all the way goes to Turkey and Iraq and Jordan and Syria and Lebanon, and then you got North Africa, morocco, algeria, tunisia and Sudan, north Sudan and South Sudan.

Dustin Elliott:

Can you talk about your work specifically in Turkey and kind of just tell a little bit about what happened with the earthquakes?

John Samara:

Yeah, I mean we've been. This is one of the churches in the earthquake hit the kind of a region where Turkey, majority Turkey and Syria and it's it devastated the area. But it's we already been involved, having involved in a lot of those areas that that been devastated, and we have churches that we have planted and part of in the life of the church, just planting them, the spiritual journey and walking alongside of them in those areas. So one of the things that we already had access to, those areas were completely destroyed and almost, I mean 90% of the city was damaged. So one of the things that we came and we had the first responding is just through the church and we come alongside serving through the church and we start working through our partners in serving the need of that community. So, but there is a lot to happen to talk about the earthquake in itself, the devastation of mud, the level of devastation is, as I mentioned, it's a really chaotic, but we saw God's working before we even responded, where people was still under the ruin. God was under the ruin.

John Samara:

Some of the testimonies that we heard, I mean before the church took action, jesus was there, absolutely, yeah, and this guy we hear about it. We heard about it the men in white. It was like a ring in the ears, like there is an echo in the region about that men in white appearing to people under the ground where they pulled them out and they'll talk about where's the men and white. Children, children, lots of children, were talking about the men and white. And it's not talking about the men and white because there is. That's not Muhammad for sure, that was Jesus. Everybody knew that. The men and white, jesus, jesus was the name for Jesus and it's amazing door where Jesus was so present during that time and season of chaos. And it's not just that we're talking about it here on your podcast. That was talked about in the media over there.

Dustin Elliott:

Just to clarify, some of this was three or four days after the earthquake. They're buried and they're pulling people out alive, and all across the region, not just in one specific spot, but they're this, the same echo, the same story of this man in white. I remember you telling me that the children were saying he came to me and he brought me milk, he brought me water, he sustained me, he encouraged me. Three or four days later, longer than someone should realistically stay alive after an event like that and without food and water.

John Samara:

And with the weather, because that was winter time.

Dustin Elliott:

And the weather it was severe, cold.

John Samara:

It was amazing because I heard that story from both end, from the Syrian side and the Turkish side and then just one of the story with this younger came to talk about, this man was bringing her milk and water and she gave more detail. It was all recorded, the story and she's in the hospital sitting in the bed telling that story and the nurse is a Muslim obviously sitting recording this because he was fascinated by this man in white. The reasons this young girl survived is because of this man providing water for her.

John Samara:

And it was just amazing because that was the echo of the earthquake Dustin. There is a reality that when people are desperate, desperate, desperate they don't have their cars, they don't have their restaurant to go and run to, they don't have the materialistic the things, that everything is available they begin to seek where their identity is. It's back to their identity in God and that is reality and I think that earthquake shook that, because they were able to see Jesus, the man in white.

Dustin Elliott:

That's amazing.

John Samara:

And then you hear about in Turkey, about these children talking about being buried and talking about the story of a man in white, one of the greatest stories I'll tell you.

John Samara:

I just recently heard this, dustin and I, we, when we responded, when the United House responded with the relief effort, with all that devastation in our church, when the first two respond to the Muslim. And there is one very popular TV show in Turkey, one of the most popular, number one popular TV show in Turkey, and they were interviewing and this woman, the audience came out and she started sharing about what happened, how she talked about those, the people of the Messiah. They're the first to come and rescue me and give me food and water and they gave me shelter for me and my children and from the rebel they pulled me out. But she sat and started to talk about the people of the Messiah and as she started hearing this host and there's hundreds of people audience and this is millions, millions and millions watched it life and on social media it's been watched the number one watch clip in that nation about the people of the Messiah and the host start tearing up what he's hearing about the people of the Messiah. Who are the people of the Messiah.

John Samara:

We as the church here responded and the church there respond through the church over there. We gave that message, the people of the Messiah, and people now rolled in that region. The Muslim world knew about the people of the Messiah, we becoming the echo of grace, of hope, healing and restoration.

Dustin Elliott:

When these events happen and there's been a lot of events in this part of the world, some natural disasters, some manmade we get these refugee crisis and the American, average American, someone like myself and people I kind of run around and do business with. It's hard for us to visualize that at times, but a lot of the work that y'all do is with refugees. It's with people that have been displaced, that have lost the breadwinner of the family, that have lost the family, home and family, land and the way of life of the family. And so tell me, how do you equip your network of local churches to be this first responder, to be the helper, to be the hands and feet of Christ? How does Ananias, specifically, do that work?

John Samara:

I think there's a lot of our DNA as a Christian that become Christ in us to be that first responder. There's a lot of who we are as a Christian as reflecting of Christ's body. There's that part of it is identity to be in the front line. But we as a ministry, we definitely there is many ways we can. We do a lot of. We come alongside so as the church people in the Muslim world, they know there is the church and that they are as much they tend to be there's a persecution of hard and pressure, but they're the most graceful, merciful and loving and caring. So people tend to shelter to the church and the church tend to take everybody and to take the gospel into it and to show, reflect Christ. I think so that's what make it part of who we are, because we, the church, reflect Christ and that is an opportunity, disaster opportunity to love, to love people, and so they tend to be the first. And then what we do, we come alongside serving the need of their community and to so the church can reflect that image well, and so we support it, we resource them and we equip them on certain aspect of how to respond. We provide a system where they can have a really good system and how to respond if there is a need for that training and equipping. So that's in many ways we kind of reach out and we walk.

John Samara:

But they're also the spiritual journey, because the church is the place where disciples should take place right. So we equip the church and how, as people respond in hearing and coming to faith, how you disciple the people and how you walk that journey. That's a long journey and that's a beautiful journey. So it's not just kind of a hey, let's respond and walk away. No, let's respond and just walk that journey with the community, but we equip them to walk those two journeys together. That's beautiful, it's a great door. I mean, sadly, I'm not saying in a negative way, but God has used crisis as a door for the church to reflect Christ, but also Christ himself, present, as I said earlier, present in those situations. So it's just, it's a matter of connecting the church to the crisis, to those who are hearing about the game matter to connecting who is that man of white, the people of the Messiah, who are they? That's where help connect the dots between the community, the Muslim world and the church so they can build that relationship.

Dustin Elliott:

Let's go back in time. Let's talk about the church before Islam, the region. Give us some historical context of how we got where we are now.

John Samara:

Well, I mean, if you you're probably about when you think about the Muslim world, you think about the Middle East, North Africa, you hear about crisis and that's so true. I mean, it's been problem after problem, war after war, crisis after crisis continue to be in that way. It's the most devastation. It's the highest refugee population worldwide coming out of that region, and so there is a lot of crisis, a lot of. When you see this crisis, the function of the family get destroyed, you know. But when you hear those, there's a lot of negativity.

John Samara:

When we think of that, we think of Islam and actually, you know I don't blame people when you think of Islam, they think of 9-11, they think of the damage and all that horrific things that come out of evilness. But there is a different image of it and I think there is. There is the people who are seeking God, who are not the bad people, who are living day to day and trying to seek God, but they don't have the truth, they don't know and they're waiting on us to hear the truth. So let's go back to the history before. I just kind of Christianity growing and Islam and invasion and coming out into that region have taken by conquering the land and enforcing people from Christianity to Islam and via taxation and other forms kind of pressure, but throughout hundreds of years. That's where majority now becoming Muslim and so in that part of the world. But today it's kind of there is a shift in that. The shift where I would say that's where I feel like where we need to hear that the shift is where the majority there are. In the last 20 years there are more Muslim coming to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and the last 1400 years as a whole since Islam came to exist. So it's a. It's a we're changing direction right now in God, the gospel. Why? Because people are seeking and because people are hearing the gospel and people are seeing dreams and visions and there are more in that chaos are adding to it and people are coming to Jesus Christ.

John Samara:

I want to add to it. You know I think there's a lot in the history you can hear about. We have the prayer book that coming. You can go on our website, wwwanisorg resource, click on the resource there is. You can download the prayer book. It's amazing data statistic on that what Christianity looked like before Islam and during invasion of Islam and also after Islam and what the church looked like today from hardship, persecution. But there's a lot how the local church pray for their nation, so you can join them in prayer for their nation. There's a lot of good information, a lot of statistic and data that can be really helpful.

Dustin Elliott:

That's great. We'll share that in the show notes. But it's ananiashouseorg and in the resources section there you can find the prayer book. There you brought a resource with you today, also the book through the eyes of a child and encounters with God in the Middle East. These are stories of children in their own testimonies of experiencing the love of the Lord while living in lives of persecution.

John Samara:

There is the story which I love about this young girl and 14 years old that came to one of we plant schools in the region among refugees who have no education and been living for a year with no education. So we've been planting schools, proper education for them, so they have hope and future. A lot of them have dreams to become lawyers, doctors, engineers. So we're trying to bring that dream for them alive, but we're trying to bring it through the gospel and share Jesus. So this young, 14 years old come to school and just to brass, tearing in the corner, the teacher seeing her and just a hey dialogue with her. And through that her story is her parents have to give her the option. They're going to marry her, to send her to somewhere where, to her cousin who is an ISIS fighter, and to marry her to ISIS or to a 70 years old gentleman outside the country, and she have two options between the two. But she even those two options the parents have for her. She cannot pick even. But she came 14 years old and she, she devastated, I mean her future, her hope is gone. And the teacher I mean what can we do except pray? And the teacher gather, said start talking and start saying let's pray. We can't do, but we can pray it technically before the hand of Jesus, and they start praying with her and she, like, two days later she come to the school completely in a different circumstances. She's smile never left her face. You know she's wearing the hijab, fully covered. But this child have experienced something bigger than what we even can imagine. Her parents came to her and said we cannot send you because the border with this obstacle, we cannot send you to Syria, to her ISIS cousin to marry her and the 70 years old man. Something not right. We just felt like it's not something not right about that and really, literally two days later she came and the whole, both just vanished and she said that fortunately, this is because of Jesus, because of Jesus and the reality. When you see the testimony, now she have this relationship. She experienced Jesus walking into her life and answering her prayer and rescuing that child life because of prayer, because of that community. So you plant those seeds and it's amazing to watch many, many.

John Samara:

There are many sad stories. One of the one of the student forced marriages is one of the most struggle we see among children, young girls, and they it's. They have no option. But God is using us and planting those seeds in the Gospel and to help protect them from those situations. And in working in cases, working through legal issues, we fight with them legally in countries trying to protect them from being forced, and a lot of them the parents being forced to. If they have, if they're refugees, they get forced by the Islamic leadership to take the young children into marriages. So it's a big problem, but the Lord's, through the church, god's doing something good and risking a lot of those kids.

John Samara:

When we talk about justice and protecting them, you know, especially when it comes to children being abused and used and even women, I think I do believe the church. In those circumstances, they're the one who are fighting in that region. I talk about the Muslim world. We work in the MENA region. They're the one who are one of the key fighters for those for the injustice among children and women, and that's one of the focus we have children and women. How can we protect them? How can we take them, rescuing from being abused daily into an environment where they feel safe and even impact, and stop protecting them legally through the system?

John Samara:

And I think it's really one of the things that really affected me that we have a woman program ministry as well, dustin, just empowering one of the just kind of to describe the culture of an honor and shame and that just not in the Muslim world, goes outside. You go to Asia, the whole continent right, and one of the women you know she's been violated and she's been violated. It's just very dishonoring for the community and for the family. So they called, they tried, they brought the person who violated that young woman and they told him if he does not marry her, if you refuse, the only way this woman will survive if this man who violated her to marry her, otherwise her blood is free. So they will slaughter her to death, if this violator does not marry her. And he refused and she was killed for just an honor and shame culture. So it's just so much injustice. And so when we, when you think about how much the hardship again, you know it's almost impossible but only through the body of Christ, the local church, we can make a difference.

John Samara:

One of the greatest story I heard that through one of the pastor and his testimony where he saw, he saw he was, he was a child and but he was one to the madrasa, the Muslim teaching, and he was taught as a school that's not high percentage of people, but there are small percentage to hate Christian. And he went to high school and he sat next to a Christian, christian man, a whole school, you know just, he's the only Christian young man. But he sat next to him and he found out that he's, the guy next to him is a Christian, and he just went furious. So I start beating him, being violent toward him, and toward the end of kind of couple of weeks he just decided we must gang the other student, we must get rid of this young Christian man because he's, you know, causing us to be unclean. And so they waited for him after school, they beat him up, they broke every bone of his body almost, and they beat him up to that. But then later on, as this, this man came to school and he you know, couple, that young child, his name is a career never showed up school. And this young man, the Muslim, the radical, thought, you know, we just gained victory because we cleansed the school from the infidel, from the unclean.

John Samara:

And so the years later, the Mustafa, the Muslim man, he, his cousin, was ill and he, he was in the hospital with his cousin and he's in a coma. So two Christian walked by, saw him and they went to walk in and pray for him and he refused because they're Christian who even refused to shake their hand. But they insisted and they laid and they went on the bed and they start praying for his cousin. And as they pray his cousin woke up from the coma, this man, mustafa. He just thought he was amazed that a miracle just took place. And these Christian men turned towards him. He said they said the miracle is not in the healing of your cousin, the miracle when the skull were for all of your eyes and they began to share the gospel and he came to Jesus Christ and he became an evangelist.

John Samara:

A couple years later he was sitting in a conference and gathering and in that gathering, in the conference, he saw this young man from his country and not young man, he was an older man from his country. 20 years later, after that incident, he sat and this other man from his country said like hey, tell me your story. Or from the same country. And Mustafa started sharing his story, what he did, how he beat up this guy sitting next to him and how the miracle that took place with his cousin and how he came to the Lord and he just just the other man, start start weeping and weeping and crying. And Mustafa was like how about? I offended you? And he said he pulled his Bible and he told Mustafa open the first page of his Bible. He said, mustafa, I am Zechariah. 20 years ago you beat me up after school. I was sitting next to you on a desk and your name's been.

John Samara:

They opened the Bible, the front page of his, of his, of his Bible. He had the name of Mustafa. For 20 years he said I've been praying for you, which is broken on. He said for 20 years you talk about God, of vengeance. You know how God is a vengeance. This is the God. He ventures with love and conquering hearts. There is no measurement of the power, of the grace of God in our life. That's the beautiful we get to experience in our life, in our ministry. We get to sit with leaders, we get to sit with the persecutor and with the proclamer.

Dustin Elliott:

So I want to segue a little bit and go back to the differences between Christianity and Islam and let's take it all the way back to the start of the nation. So let's go back to Abraham and Sarah. They can't get pregnant, they get frustrated, you know. They don't wait on God's timing. Sarah gives Abraham. At that point, Abraham, Hagar is her servant, and they have Ishmael. And then you go through some series of Abrams name change to Abraham and Sarah's name change to Sarah, and then and then they eventually do get pregnant and they have Isaac. And then Hagar and Ishmael get sent away and you have a profound thought that God's laid on your heart for years as to what happened in that story and has continued to happen with that story.

John Samara:

Well, I mean just reading through the scripture, dustin, and talking about the reality from Genesis, from Genesis 21, 8 to 21,. You know, you look through that story and you hear about when Ishmael was sent out and she left her son like a distant from where he can shoot an error, far away, because you could not hear the cry of her child. I travel, I lived in the Muslim world and I think of that cry. I hear the calls to prayers, the cry. I don't hear a call to prayer. I hear a cry of the Muslim world. I hear the cry of Ishmael.

Dustin Elliott:

And God heard that cry in Genesis. What did the Lord say to Ishmael? And he said I will make him a great nation.

John Samara:

I will make him a great nation. God, hearing the cries, when you hear the call, when I hear the call to prayer, when you hear thousands of mosques calling to prayer five times a day as loud you cannot even create a conversation in your own home. But what I've been hearing, we've been hearing that cry of Ishmael that Hager could not hear and the Lord said I've been hearing the cry and I will make him a great nation. What is that great nation? It's not a nation, it's the kingdom of God, where God bringing back Muslim into the Lord and to know Jesus Christ, Many, many are hearing dreams and vision on God revealing himself in a beautiful way.

Dustin Elliott:

Why is the tide turning right now? Why is the tide turning In the main region?

John Samara:

yeah, because God's saying I've been hearing the cry. It's a cry is ringing in the ears of the Lord. God love the Muslim people. God love the Muslim people that he's working among the Muslim Europe beyond any other people group today, because he's there and active, he's in the robles, he's under the rubble, he's dreams vision. He's providing water.

John Samara:

I was sitting in one of our school and we were children and these are middle school teachers. I'm not middle school, they're middle school, they're kids. They're six, seven years old, they're eight years old. That's the highest. I mean they're sitting and they're refugees. They have nothing, no food. We have this program they come with, provide education.

John Samara:

But one of them brought lunch with them. None of the other, or the teacher, brought lunch and they sat and he started eating and he felt awkward the kids and he came to the teacher. He said can I share it? And as she looked at it, it's just not much. And he said, well, let's pray and see what the Lord can do.

John Samara:

And the other kids were hungry and that's in the school, and they began to pray for the food and they prayed for Jesus to bless this food and all of a sudden the other kids in the class took some, the teacher took some and there were some left over. The whole class got fed by this. One child brought his own lunch, which none of them had any, and some of them took it to the next class and they fed the students and the teacher and that little kids experiencing the miracle of the 5,000,. God hears the cries in dreams and vision in miracles. Today I don't know what to say about it, because I heard it from a mouth of a child saying that testimony and I heard it in English. That child with his broken English, with the excitement of sharing what he has experienced of God.

Dustin Elliott:

If you could give me today key similarities between Islam and Christianity and maybe the key differences between the two.

John Samara:

Islam. When Islam came, muhammad what he did? They took a lot of the story of the Old Testament and they incorporated there are some changes into it, but there's a lot of the Old Testament history, from Adam and Eve, all the way to Abraham to Isaiah. So there's a lot of story pulled out of the Bible. And, in fact, islam, the Quran, talk about the people of the Book. The people of the Book are the Christian. So he referred to people, the people of the people of the Book, and so he referred them to people of the Book as the people, that is, the people of Jesus.

John Samara:

Later on, the leadership of Islam want to distance the Bible. So what they say, the people of the Book? They corrupt the Bible. He's talking about the uncorrupted. So they begin to switch their own prophet word and say, hey, the Bible is corrupted, so the people? That's different book, that book is corrupted. So, but there's a lot of similarity. Even Islam themselves they direct people to the Bibles and so our heart is to redirect them to see and experience Jesus and, through taking them to their own Quran, to see the word of God, and to transform them from what the Quran says about Jesus, to take them into the Bible and start teaching the word of God and empower them, because the authority is the word of God, it's not the Quran.

Dustin Elliott:

Right one thing that I am very interested in and the fact that you've experienced life in a church in a part of the world that is always under persecution, and yet you've also experienced life in church in the West, where we have freedom of religion. I don't, I can't comprehend what it would be like to live in that part of the world and try to be growing the body of Christ when you in reality just accepting Christ and then sharing your faith could get you killed. Yeah, I mean it could get your family members hurt, it could dramatically affect your life and it should, because you are making that dramatic of a change in your life. But how do you reconcile the differences? For us, john?

John Samara:

Well, you just said it. I think the reality that when you live and under that environment but persecution and persecution mean death could lead to death. What I see of the church the key. When you describe the church who are living under the persecution, you're describing that incredible commitment to the Lord to die for their faith. I think the church in the West struggled with the commitment. That's key differences we cannot commit. I mean see a lot of broken marriages in the church as well. I mean I think that's something we could learn that from the church and under persecution, that amazing commitment to die for their faith in Jesus Christ.

John Samara:

And not just that, but their children, your wife, under the same circumstances, for that, for the faith of Jesus Christ. I've seen pastor one of some of our pastors their children, because he's an MBB Muslim, a BR Christian believer, and his kids go to school, public school, just because, and they get persecuted because of their parents' faith, because they say we're Christian but their name is Muslim and it's a Muslim nation. How can you be so? They get mistreated, beaten by the teacher, by the students, because of the faith of their parents. So it's a sacrifice, commitment to the Lord. That commitment I think they have. One of the things that we have, strength and that we can help them, is we have strong biblical knowledge and theology of depth. We have depth and one of the things we can give the church over there. They come from a different background, different culture. They lack depth and theology we have. They have commitment and sometimes we struggle with that commitment on many aspects.

Dustin Elliott:

Why do you think there are more miracles being seen in the persecuted church versus, maybe, the Western church?

John Samara:

I honestly, that's just very difficult because there is. I think we have access, we have the knowledge right. That's one of the things God revealed himself through the word of God, through the knowledge, through the access with the Lord provided for us. He's in the West, but over there there's a lack of that knowledge, lack of that access. A lot of people seek, a lot of people seeking God, but they don't know how. All they have is the Quran or they have the Moa. They don't have access to it. So, god, I think God's meet them halfway. He meet them with that desire that we see somewhat more miracles, more God revealing himself in dreams, and visions, that's such a good answer.

John Samara:

And it's not that he's not revealing himself here. He is revealing himself through the teaching, the power, the gospel that exists here. The teaching of the church and the strength of the church here Over there is different. So one of the things I want to also add, I want to add back to the commitment of the church and I want to end up with that story. I always shared it and shared it here Traveling with my father in the midst of a war-torn country and trying to get access to a document for my wife so she can exit the country.

John Samara:

In the midst of that, we had to get in the car and travel to that different city to get her document. And on the way, on our road, we had to go through many checkpoints. Some of them could be like a radical checkpoint, isis-like-minded checkpoints, and we were very scared. And we get to the first checkpoint and we slowed down. I was sitting in the back seat with my wife, my dad and my front seat. And we get to the first. He slows down and as he slows down, these soldiers with the machine guns on his face asking for ID. And I looked and came my wife ID to hand to dad. And as I handed to my dad. My dad was looking at that AK-47 in his face and he was looking at that soldier. And the first things he said to that soldier, I want to share with you the best gift the world has ever known. My heart dropped. I thought that was the end of it for us. Here he is handing our ID, but he was sharing the best gift the world. That creosity came to that soldier and he pulled toward my mom and he had the bag of Bible next to him on the passenger side and in that bag of he pulled out and he handed it to the soldier. The soldier wants to take the Bible, but my dad will not let go of the Bible until the soldier make a promise to read it. He opened the door to the soldier. He made my dad exit. I mean, there's a line of car. I mean this is a war zone. He made my dad exit and pray for him and he prayed for him at the checkpoint for the other soldier. He get back into the car. And I began to think if I knew that there is a bag of Bible in that car, I would have never gotten the car with my dad.

John Samara:

And we get to the next checkpoint and I start praying. I said praying Lord, please don't let my dad open his mouth on the next checkpoint, and that was my prayer. We get to the next checkpoint and praise God. God never answered my prayers and all the checkpoint we went through the first thing he would say and come out of his mouth I want to share with you the best gift the word has ever known. And he stand, he pray with the soldier, he lay hands and pray for them, hand them Bibles and make them promise to read it.

John Samara:

And we get to that official building where we need to get in and we stand online and I know what my dad about to do. We stand, I stand behind him. As I stand behind him, I kind of acted like I don't. I don't know him because he's going to step forward. He's going to talk about the best gift the word has ever known and he's turned back building Everybody's trying to exit the country.

John Samara:

He stepped in forward. He get to that glass window it's a Druze background area, all Druze and he began to talk about the best gift the word ever known. As I acted like I don't know this man Because I know if he's getting trouble, I take my document, I'll do it myself. And I looked over about a few minutes later, five minutes later or so, and I see this woman sitting there and just tear falling out of her eyes as he's staring here about the best gift, the word ever known. And it's hit me that moment how much people are thirsty for that truth. People are just thirsty for the word of God, and that's back to your question why God revealed himself. People are ready, despite everything, and I think that's the challenge for us right here. Your transparency in the story is incredible.

Dustin Elliott:

You don't have to say this out loud, and yet you are, because your faith has grown since that story and what you're and what you're doing and what your prayer would be now right To say. I wouldn't have gotten in the car had I known there was a bag of Bibles and I knew dad was going to stop at every checkpoint with a guy with a gun to our head. And yet he did, and he did it effectively.

John Samara:

He did it in love because they're committed to the word of God. That's something we can learn from the church. The church is faithful. They're willing to die for their faith because they know that world are desperate for truth. Yes, there is war. Yes, there is radicalism. Yes, there is Islam. Yes, there is killing. Yes, there is for everything. Yes, there is injustice, but there is truth, and we die for other to hear the truth.

Dustin Elliott:

It's worth giving your life for. It's worth giving your life for John. Thank you for sharing that story. I would love it if you would pray for us and our listeners in Arabic and then maybe translate that to English for us.

John Samara:

Yeah, I would love to.

John Samara:

I would like to say that I would like to thank you for the nice opportunity that we had to talk about your service and your work in the Middle East and the African Union, about your service to the Muslim world and how you use this service.

John Samara:

I would like to ask you, I would like to say that you are the person who is listening now, who is listening to the tests you are doing in the life of the world so that they know your service more and be blessed with their lives.

John Samara:

Coniorab min fa'ala hayatun al-ruhi'a maak, father, I just thank you from the bottom of the heart for this opportunity to share with our audience here and those who are hearing the testimonies and stories, lord, that these stories would be empowerment for their spiritual journey and their journey with you, father, and their desire to see your world crossing nation. Father, I just pray that you will encourage them and your blessing, and we know, father, we want to pray for those people who are serving you faithfully in the Meen-e-Rizian Lord, our partner through Ananias House Lord as well. We pray that you continue to use them, lord, and that we can continue to be a voice and advocate and stand with them and support what you are doing through the Church and the Meen-e-Rizian. Father, we love you and we pray your blessing over us in your name we pray.

Dustin Elliott:

John, thank you so much for your work, for your ministry, your family, for your commitment to the kingdom, for what you're doing in the Middle East and Northern Africa and for providing a solution that anyone listening to this can get involved with. They can go to ananiashouseorg, they can go through your resources, they can go through your shop, they can order the through the eyes of a child book, and they can participate in praying with you and in funding and giving and sending for your ministry, as you're going to keep doing the work on the ground. We're all called to play a role in this. We all. We all have something we can be doing that we're not doing now. So let's be thinking about what that is and we look forward to seeing y'all soon.

Dustin Elliott:

Thank you for listening to Unreached. Our sincere desire is that what you've heard today will cause you to see the mission of God differently and you're rolling it more clearly. If this adds value for you and we hope it does Would you please rate and review the podcast wherever you listen. Also, share with your family, your friends, your church, your life group small group, d group wherever you do life, and if you want to connect with us find us on Instagram at Unreached Podcast or email us at unreachedpodcastatgmailcom. You.

Journey to Reach Unreached People Groups
Hope and Faith Amidst Crisis
Ishmael's Cry and the Miracles
Sharing the Best Gift
John's Ministry and Call for Participation