What About Those Who've Never Heard?
This week's post is by Noemi Pagan. Noemi is a member of Centerpoint and travels to North Africa on a regular basis to develop and train Christian leaders.
What About Those Who've Never Heard?
“What about those who’ve never heard?” - This is one of those challenging questions I have heard (and even wondered myself) when thinking through whether the validity of Christian belief. While I feel like I’ve dealt with this question with various answers, I have recently encountered several leaders’ stories which for me have blown this question out of the water.
As Pastor Steve mentioned during a recent Worship Gathering, sometimes we live in a construct that we are used to, and we underestimate who Jesus really is. Why do we think Almighty God would be limited by simple human expectations?
I thought I’d share a few stories of people in North Africa who have encountered Jesus personally and believed in him as savior in ways that increase my view of who God is and how he works:
“I used to be a devoted Muslim, but I saw on TV an ISIS man beheading people in the name of Allah. I thought, “That’s not my religion! Islam is a religion of peace!” I started asking questions at the Mosque and was unable to get any clear answers. I felt the heavy weight of religion, wanting to feel God was with me and would make me victorious, but I did not have a relationship with God. I was trying my best to reach Him but failing at it and felt like God saw me as being far away or maybe He did not even exist. So, I decided to live my youth and enjoy my life. I became an atheist, playing drums in a heavy metal band, but always still felt guilty. One day, I want to a church and started reading the Bible and asking Christians about their doctrine. I was struck by the love of Christ and the beauty of a relationship with Him. For a year, I spent time asking questions in both the Mosque and in a Christian church. I asked so many questions that I was kicked out of the Mosque. t was a hard year: I failed in my studies at school, felt lonely and started to blame God for my failures. One night, Christ Himself came to me in a vision. I felt His hand on my shoulder and He told me, “I am with you always and you haven’t known me, Dear A---!” I asked, “Who are you? I don’t know you.” He replied, “Those who have seen me have seen the Father. I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Follow me.” When I woke, I looked over at the bed next to mine which had been made but now had an imprint as if someone had been sitting there. So, I found the Bible, opened it and discovered those very words in John. At that moment, I decided to follow Jesus.” -A
My younger brother accepted Christ. Although I had lived a corrupt life, including alcoholism, I still practiced Islam: praying every Friday. I got furious with my brother and burnt his Bible and any other Christian books he had and threw him out of my family’s house. He continued in his new faith and still showed love toward me. As he did this, my attitude toward him changed. I once went to visit him at his new place, and he welcomed me with joy. We agreed to start a conversation. I asked him for a copy of a Bible so that I could prove the fallacies in it and show that it was not the Word of God. Instead, I discovered the opposite and saw how ugly Islam is. I left Islam but did not tell my brother. One day, I was reading Matthew 7:7-12 but did not understand it, so I asked God to explain it to me. I dreamt that I was in a pit and screaming and Jesus came to me in a big light, pulled me up, and hugged me. I felt such peace and then He disappeared. I woke and opened up the Bible back to Matthew 7:7- “Keep asking and you shall be given…” I got it. Christ Himself appeared to me. I believed in Him as my Lord and Savior. Now, I lead the home church I had been previously persecuting.” -M
‘I got to know the Lord when I started listening to Christian Radio in 1987. I come from an Islamic Salafist background (ultra-conservative/fundamentalist), but I listened and even corresponded with several centers to study the Bible. In 1990, I was interrogated by the police but still continued to study the Bible fervently. That same year, I saw a vision that I remember vividly to this day. I saw “magic” invading the whole city and everyone fleeing in fear, including me. Then I saw the Lord Jesus in a white garment with a person on His right and one on His left. I started screaming, “Jesus, save me!” and He replied, “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life. Follow me and have no fear.” He put His hands over the trembling waves, and it stopped. I woke and had tears in my eyes. I’ve seen that dream more than 10 times since then, remember it well, and am encouraged by it. Amen. To God be the glory.” -A
There are so many more stories like this I could share. This is just a taste of what God is doing in North Africa - and around the world. May these stories open your eyes to see the glory of our Almighty God today!