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Encouraging One Another

by An Impact Middle East Leader | Jan 2024 | Heartbeat, HB Middle East

Fatima, a believer for many years, was disappointed and discouraged with the church. She was part of a women’s ministry, and we went to follow up with her. During our visit to her, she also revealed her deep disappointment with her lifelong friend. They worked as primary school teachers for many years, and their friendship continued into retirement.

Fatima and her friend had gone on a group tour to Dubai and shared a room. While Fatima was sleeping, her friend stole most of her money. Fatima had almost nothing left and could not buy gifts for her daughters and grandchildren. She had barely enough money left to buy her food. Fatima had not expected her friend to act this way after such a long friendship.

When Fatima confronted her friend, the friend insulted her, calling her many detestable names. During the remaining days of the trip, her friend spared no opportunity to abuse her in the presence of the rest of the group. Fatima, who is very gentle and meek, was shocked by her friend’s behavior and had no idea how to respond.

After Fatima finished expressing her pain to us, she cried. We could not overlook her misery and hurt. We spent some time in prayer and songs and read about the last days and how believers are to stand fast in this evil generation. We encouraged Fatima by expressing words from the scripture of how suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

In the end, Fatima was encouraged. She praised the Lord and said, “The Lord is good to my soul; he is my true treasure.” Then she added, “We should not forsake His Word, for through His Word, we can encourage one another.” Fatima began a small group that continues to meet in her home. It is a source of strength for many from the majority background as they navigate the unusual pressures of following Jesus in a hostile context.

Home groups in the Middle East have a special place in ministry to majority groups. Many from the majority background experience degrees of suffering and persecution we will never fully understand. Through home groups, they often find solace with others facing similar persecution and ask hard questions about God and His Word.

Photo: Another’s Eyes Photography. Photo is not the actual person