The Great Commission. Weaving gospel threads. Making Disciples. Growing up at Brook Hills, you could say I’d heard about these things a time or two. But, for some reason, knowledge of these truths had yet to translate into obedience in my life. I had heard of God’s zeal for the glory of His name among the nations, but His zeal had yet to become mine.
In college, busyness blinded my eyes to the opportunities that surrounded me. I was too busy pining away about my future career and potential spouses to notice that my neighbors were unreached and unengaged peoples from the nations.
Then, while serving at a Student Life Camp the summer of my freshmen year, the Lord exposed my long-standing pride and inability to love and serve people well. I was living for myself under the guise of living for Him.
But God poured out His mercy. He blew upon the embers of the faithful study and preaching of His Word that had taken place in my life years prior. The flame that ensued burned into a passionate, loving zeal to see Christ's name known among the nations. My mind was filled with new dreams and desires to go and do amazing things for Jesus.
I didn’t realize that He was already working in ways I couldn’t have even imagined.
Peter* was one of the first internationals I met on campus. He was a Muslim from the Middle East who had studied and taught Sharia law as one of the most religious men in his community. His wife, Farah*, was from an extremely religious family. They had recently married and come to the United States to study English. Imagine entering a foreign country with a limited knowledge of the language, no knowledge of the community, and very few friends. This was their experience as well as the experience of almost every international we came to know. Through their isolation, the Lord allowed me and several friends to get to know this couple.
Hospitality is an important part of their culture, so Peter and Farah would often invite us over for tea and a meal. They practiced their English, and we modeled the love of Christ as we spoke of what we treasure. We spoke of Jesus, a prophet that they knew about, and a gospel that was utterly foreign. They were intrigued.
By God’s grace, we soon became the best of friends. The Lord gave us a deep love for Peter and Farah, and we began to spend every day together. We would pray for them, speak with them, ask them questions, answer questions, learn Arabic, teach English, and just enjoy time together.
In a period of a few months, Peter and Farah had heard the gospel thousands of times.
One winter night, we invited Peter and Farah to Brook Hills, and the sermon just so happened to be on Genesis 22 – a story so familiar and yet so foreign to our friends. In the story, God commands the sacrifice of an only son to show that He provides. Pastor David Platt faithfully proclaimed the Word that night, then we went to the tables to take communion. Our friends stayed behind. As we came back to our seats, we were shocked to find our friends weeping. I asked Peter what was wrong. Through tears, he told me that we could talk later.
Two weeks passed, and still no conversation. It was then that Farah asked if Peter had told us about his dream. Dumbfounded, my friend and I asked,
According Farah, in the dream, I told Peter, “Now is the time.” And then he was baptized.
My friend and I looked at each other in astonishment. This was apparently the second dream he had related to Jesus. I couldn’t contain my excitement. I went to Peter and asked him what he thought about his dreams. He simply responded as if nothing had happened. I was pretty discouraged, but I took this discouragement to our weekly prayer gathering the next morning, and we prayed for Peter and Farah for the thousandth time.
This time, however, was different. I can’t explain it, but I left that time with an overwhelming trust that Peter was going to follow Jesus – and soon.
Fast forward to the following Sunday as Peter and I went to another church gathering together. On the way home, I asked,
“Peter, you’ve heard the good news of Jesus many times, and you keep going to church gatherings with me, so I wanted to know what you think about Jesus after all this time. Do you want to trust in Him? Do you want to follow Him?”
He turned his head as his shoulders began to shake and he began to cry. Broken, he responded,
“If He’ll have me.”
I pulled the car over, and we began to unpack the gospel one more time as we talked about the cost. Given his background, he counted a cost he probably knew better than anyone. He knew that he would be rejected by his family and friends and that Farah could divorce him. He knew that he could be tortured and killed for his faith.
A week later, he proclaimed to his new family-in-Christ that Jesus was more than worth it. It was a dream fulfilled. The Holy Spirit moved through the Word to make my best friend my brother. He took two very different people from vastly different cultures and made us family. I can’t help but praise God for His kindness in constantly doing the impossible and saving the “unsavable.”
The beautiful news is that Peter’s story didn’t end there.
Farah did not divorce Peter but chose to support him instead. And after two more years of prayer, love, and sharing of the Word, Farah also finally began to follow Jesus. She was soon baptized.
Still, the Lord continues to amaze us. Recently, Peter asked us to pray for his mother who was diagnosed with cancer. We translated two biopsies for Peter and Farah that clearly showed Peter’s mother had cancer.
As a faith family, we prayed for two weeks, and when the doctors went in for surgery, they found no cancer. How amazing is our God?!
These are just a few glimpses of the grace displayed in Peter and Farah’s story.
For all of those who continue to share the gospel with little fruit, Peter and Farah’s story reminds us that the Lord will fulfill His promises. We can surrender and stand in awe as He works wonders that leave us breathless. Their story calls us to keep sharing the Word and to watch in worship as our greatest treasure makes much of His name through us. After all, “Missions isn’t the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is.”**
Jacob Hunt* grew up at Brook Hills and continues to seek opportunities to spread the gospel to all nations. Peter and Farah are now serving together in their home country, and they ask that you keep them in your prayers, as their family members have yet to trust in Christ.
*Names have been changed for security purposes.
**From “Let the Nations Be Glad,” by Dr. John Piper.