Update #4 From The 2015 MENA Conference

by Phil Tuttle

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"Oh Lord, I have no idea what to say and I really need you to tell me what to talk about."

That was my prayer immediately after I found out I would be speaking to a room full of refugees – mostly from Syria and Iraq.

And did I mention that nearly all of them are Muslims?

I repeated that prayer all through the night when I woke up at annoyingly frequent intervals.

The next day I learned that some have embraced Jesus as their Savior, while many are seeking truth to help them make sense of their disrupted lives.

So why would a bunch of Muslim refugees start attending church anyway?

For some, they're just trying to find their place in their overwhelming new surroundings. Others come because they're disillusioned with Islam having witnessed enough violence for ten lifetimes. And nearly all of them are attracted by the genuine love that believers from this small church have lavished on them without expecting anything in return.

And come they did! Every seat was full and extra chairs were added to accommodate latecomers. And this was only the people who come on Sunday night. Similar groups meet five other nights each week.

So I begged God to give me the right words to share with this unique group.

And he did.

I began by talking about how our news networks tell us we have nothing in common. Americans and Syrians, Iraqis, and Lebanese live in such different worlds that conflict is inevitable. Our governments sometimes magnify our differences to create fear so we will allow them to control us.

2015-07-01 image-2But as I travel all over the world as the leader of Walk Thru the Bible, I experience something very different.

I meet people everywhere who are really much the same. Parents in every country wonder whether it was wise to bring children into a world that is so violent and dangerous. Wives everywhere ask why their husbands only pretend to listen without ever truly hearing what their hearts are saying. And husbands in every corner of the world fear their mothers-in-law!

The powerful blend of tears and laughter assured me my words were connecting. A supernatural bond was established in less than three minutes.

Another truth that connects us all as humans is our love of home. In my country we often say, "There's no place like home." And nearly all of them nodded in agreement and one older woman to my right began to openly weep.

But that has been yanked away from them by the threat of ISIS (or Desh as they call it here) or other powerful forces beyond their control. Economies have collapsed, local governments have ceased to function, tranquility has been shattered, and they had no choice but to run for their lives.

They have become refugees.

Both the Koran and the Bible tell us there's nothing new about becoming a refugee.

Father Abraham and Mother Sarah became refugees when they left the comfort of Ur and followed the call of God without even knowing their destination.

Moses and his huge following lived as refugees for 40 years after their exodus from Egypt.

And Joseph undoubtedly qualified as a refugee after his brothers betrayed him and sold him to Midianite merchants heading to Egypt.

But the greatest refugee of all is the prophet in the Koran named "Isa," or "Jesus" as he is called in the Bible.

But Jesus was a voluntary refugee.

He chose to leave his perfect home in heaven to come live in the chaos of earth. The Bible says he "tabernacled" among us, which literally means he "pitched his tent" in our midst – for 33 years!

Why? What would cause someone to choose to be a refugee when they didn't have to?

The only possible explanation is that he loves us more than we've ever been loved by anyone else.

Then we looked at the profoundly simple words of John 14:1-6. Together we marveled how Jesus took on refugee status by coming where we live so he could ultimately take our wandering souls to live with him in his eternal home.

But how do we get to his perfect home? That's the same question Thomas asked in confusion and frustration.

Jesus answered, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. There is no other path that leads to the Father." A statement of crystalized truth that we repeated several times together as I taught them the words in English and they helped me struggle through it in Arabic.

Suddenly we were all refugees together in awe of the Ultimate Refugee who came to lead us home.

We talked about the cross, where Jesus paid the price to purchase our eternal citizenship.

And we rejoiced that Jesus understands every emotion we feel right now because he knows what it feels like to live in foreign surroundings, be separated from those we love, or ache for the home we left behind.

And then we prayed. Together as one.

A band of hurting refugees, who 30 minutes ago believed we had so little in common, had discovered that we really are very much the same.

As we hugged and kissed each other's cheeks I smiled in my spirit. God had answered my plea for help.

He had spoken. And he had not stuttered.

Phil Tuttle
Walk Thru the Bible

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Deborah Ryan 18.11.2015 07:28  
Walk Through Bible: MENA Conference Yes No   This was a very uplifting and encouraging article--by Phil Tuttle. I am so thankful that I have taken time to "fish around" on this website--as it is just full of gold nuggets, both support and strengthen Christian people in their daily walk with God--and to connect with other Christians who are busy fulfilling the Great Commission.
I am very thankful for WTB ministry and for the wonderful seminar that came to our church, here in Fenton MI--just a couple of months ago. It was life-changing!
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Ruth Montgomery 18.08.2015 23:49  
This made me smile Yes No   I loved that you were feverishly counting on the HS to do the work. Things run much more smoothly when I put the HS in charge. Besides, it's usually more fun and interesting to go with what our Sovereign God has planned.  
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