“God is the greatest. I acknowledge that there is no god but God.”
It was the middle of the night and I had not fallen asleep yet. The fearful airport entry had gone well...we were not pulled aside or questioned as we entered the country and completed customs. But on the first night out exploring the city, our workers (missionaries) had suspicions that we had been followed by secret police, which obviously had shaken each of us a bit. The question remained: How to film in a country where security issues loomed large?
I lay in bed that night frustrated with sleeplessness, overwhelmed with emotion, but not sure why. At 4 am I heard a faint sound of a speaker from the nearest Mosque, a man calling out the Adhan - the call to prayer, in Arabic:
“I acknowledge that Muhammed is the messenger of God. Hasten to prayer. Hasten to prayer. Hasten to success. Hasten to success.”
I tossed and turned. The Adhan can be heard throughout the city, with no way to escape its dark and eerie echo. I had come here to tell the story of our workers and yet I couldn’t recall the promises of our Brother (the name for Christ I was to use in any communication with loved ones back home). I wrote down memories from the day to send to friends that were back home praying for me. I would find out later that some of them had been praying together at the very hour the adhan was proclaimed over the city.
“Prayer is better than sleep. Prayer is better than sleep.”
I just wanted to sleep. The next day would be full as we would be traveling to a refugee outreach and, for me, meeting Syrian refugees for the first time. In my exhaustion I couldn't bring myself to ask anything of our Brother.
“God is greatest. God is greatest,” the Imam continued.
I tossed again in my bed, a mattress on the floor surrounded by my photography and filming equipment. Was this trip a mistake? My mind raced: “I have to use my camera to tell these stories, and that’s why I’m here. But we can’t even say the name of Christ much less show missionaries in any of the shots." Many of them work under high security, as telling others of Jesus is a crime. "What if they’re found out and it’s my fault? What if I’m found out?”
“There is no god but God. There is no god but God.”
My own call to awaken came an hour later. Since my visit to the Middle East, God has reminded me of His promises in Psalm 56:
"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?"
He remembers our tossings. He knows how many times I tossed and turned that night as I was full of anxiety and fear. We would hear the Adhan more than twenty five times during our time in the Middle East and I never got used to it. A chilling echo over a city gripped by restrictions which keep many from hearing the name of our true Christ. I left the Middle East more thankful and moved by a God who not only keeps count of my tossings but His same book tells me He gives to His beloved sleep, all reminders to trust Him and not fear.
Pray for our missionaries in closed countries around the world…that they would know God loves them so deeply that He keeps track of their tossings and catches their tears in a bottle. Pray they would know He is at work in dark places. And in the midst of fears, anxieties, and persecution that you and I quite frankly can't understand, pray that God would give them sleep.
Please pray for!
• Trips in 2018: Pray as we are in communication with folks "in the field" to determine where and when I'll be documenting different teams in 2018. Pray for our communication with teams and for plans, schedules, and logistics to work out to go where God is leading for 2018.
• Church visits: Pray for opportunities to share at more churches and new outlets to speak about missions in order to encourage the American church, advocate on behalf of our missionaries, and raise support for this ministry.
• Support Raising: Pray for God to provide the remaining yearly support needed and for the account to stay healthy for future years as we plan trips and storytelling for next year and beyond.
• Editing Challenges: I am editing sensitive videos I filmed from the Middle East in 2017. These present challenges and require a different approach. Please pray for safety and encouragement for our missionaries appearing in these films and for God to call long-term workers to the Middle East.
• Spiritually/Physically: These trips can be challenging emotionally, spiritually & physically as I go back and forth to the field. Please pray for Christ's power to be made perfect in my weakness and for rest in the midst of seasons of long work hours and trips away from home.