Aburi* is a 73-year-old, retired Air Force pilot, and I want to be like him when I grow up.
Aburi and his wife, Sabine, spend multiple days a week making home visits in their Middle Eastern city to deliver food boxes, share the gospel with the lost, and disciple and encourage believers. They are part of a team of believers who are committed to living out the Great Commission in their city. We had the joy of spending a week in July being an extension of their work.
On most of my trips overseas, the local partners we’ve worked with were young — often college-aged or in their 30s or 40s — but this team is different. They are all between the ages of 50 and 73, and they are all in for the glory of Christ. This is a summary of a few home visits I was a part of with Aburi and Sabine, which show just how faithful they are.
Rakah is a Muslim-background believer from Syria. Aburi shared with him years before, and he trusted Christ. He spoke of the suffering he experienced in Syria before coming to the refugee camp and shared miraculous stories of God’s faithfulness to him. In one such story, he was having difficulty obtaining the ID he needed to remain in the city. When he was on his way to try again, he tripped and said “Jesus” on his way to the ground. A nearby police officer heard him and asked what he’d said. He said, “Jesus.” The police officer was a believer and personally helped him get his ID. A few weeks later, there was a robbery in his housing complex, and government officials came to the wrong home and questioned him. He had his ID at that point, or he could’ve been deported. Since then, his wife and one of his sons have come to faith as well.
Najad is another Muslim-background believer. He was in an accident and fractured several lumbar vertebrae. He could only walk very short distances with a walker. He came to faith, and after four days of reading the Scriptures for himself, he began to be healed and could walk independently in a matter of days.
Later, he showed his X-ray to a doctor from the U.S. without telling him whose it was, and the doctor said, “This man can’t walk.”
Najad replied, “This is my X-ray.”
Najad then told us he had been diagnosed with a fatal colon condition and was told he needed surgery. Najad told the Lord that He’d healed him before, and he was trusting God to do so again. He never had the surgery, and he is still very much alive. Najad continued to share, with tears, stories of God’s faithfulness to him and his wife.
During other visits that week, we shared with a married couple who professed to be Christians but had never actually heard the gospel before — both trusted Christ that day! We had the opportunity to encourage a homebound woman who was in despair because she couldn’t attend worship with other believers. Unexpectedly, we got to share with her son, Youssef, who trusted in Christ. We also shared with a nominal Christian mother and her two daughters, who professed faith for the first time that week.
You may have noticed these are all home visits to believers or nominal Christians. Halfway through the week, I learned that Aburi had been so faithful sharing with Muslims in his city over the previous 15-20 years that the leader of his city summoned him to his office one day. He then wrote an ordinance stating that if Aburi was caught sharing the gospel in a Muslim home again, he would be fined the equivalent of over $21,000 USD! So now Aburi and Sabine share with nominal Christians and encourage and disciple believers.
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed about this, because let’s face it, when you go to the Middle East, you expect to share with Muslims. But God...
Our last visit of the week was with a Muslim-background Christian woman. We came in, talked for a few minutes, and then she left the room. As she did, Aburi and Sabine got smiles on their faces and explained that the lady’s brother, Hasam, happened to be there that day. He was Muslim and wanted to talk to Aburi. My co-laborer, Jason, got to share the gospel through Aburi’s translation, provoking discussion. Hasam didn’t repent and believe then, but he wanted to talk more about Jesus with Aburi later. So even though Aburi can’t go to Muslims, God brought a Muslim to Aburi!
During that single week, Aburi and Sabine were used by God in six people professing faith in Jesus. This is the Spirit’s work, but we have to be obedient to God’s call for Him to use us. How are you being obedient to His call in our city and among the nations?
Aburi and Sabine are surrendered to the Lord. They could be doing anything in their retirement years, but they are investing in Kingdom work for the glory of Jesus. They are leaving a legacy that will last far beyond their time here — it will last for eternity.
Wesley James is a Physical Therapist living in the Hoover area and has been a member of Brook Hills since 2010. He currently co-leads a Singles 20s/30s small group. In his free time, he enjoys playing sports, reading, and traveling.
*Names changed for security purposes.