Light in the Darkness

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The darkness of war in Syria has taken a tremendous toll on the Muslim men, women, and children in that ravaged region. Millions have been forced to flee their homeland only to face an uncertain future as refugees in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond. Through our strategic partnerships with local churches like Resurrection Church Beirut (RCB), UWM is seeing how even in some of the hardest places on the planet, the darkness cannot hide the light of Christ.

One such shining example is in the story of Mary and Malek, a Muslim couple from Syria that met and married in the midst of a brutal and grueling civil war. Shortly after being blessed with two beautiful children, their marriage began falling apart at the seams. The hardships of war weighed heavily on Malek who would routinely take out his frustrations on Mary in the form of physical beatings. Malek’s frustration eventually led him to divorce Mary and take away their two young children as he fled to neighboring Lebanon to find a new life as a refugee.

Mary spent the next two years, disgraced, heartbroken, and alone doing the best she could to survive. Haunted by the heartache of two young children without their mom in a distant land, she finally fled her homeland to find and then fight for her family to be whole again. Mary’s search brought her all the way to Beirut, where she found Malek remarried, living with her two children, plus a one year old born to Malek’s new wife. She begged Malek to take her back if for no other reason than to take care of his three children. Malek agreed, and Mary took her place as free, live-in child care in her ex-husband’s one bedroom flat.

Money was tight and soon the beatings began again as Malek failed to find ample employment and took out his frustration on Mary. Desperate to provide for her family, Mary found an opportunity for refugee women to embroider fine towels to be sold in the West – a program of our partner, Resurrection Church in Beirut. In that work she found dignity, as for the first time, she brought in money to help her struggling family. She also encountered women from RCB that demonstrated and articulated the gospel of Jesus. The light of God’s love began to shine in Mary’s heart and she became a follower of Jesus. She attended a life group of RCB for Syrian refugees where she began to grow in her new relationship with Jesus. The deepest needs of her heart have been met in God and she has become a small light in a very dark place.

Back at home, Malek began to notice a dramatic difference in the way Mary treated him with respect instead of contempt. She seemed more alive than he had ever known her to be. Because of the money she brought in and the change he witnessed, the beatings stopped. Malek’s second wife saw such light and love in Mary’s care for all three children that she moved back in with her parents, leaving her own child for Mary to raise.

Today, Malek is drawn to the transformation he experiences in Mary’s life and knows it is a result of her leaving Islam to become a follower of Jesus. He is still a Muslim, but is in the process of seeking to know the truth about who Jesus is. Although he is illiterate, Malek is now learning to read from an RCB life group leader, so he can read the Bible and in his own word’s, “come to know the truth for himself”.

As UWM partners with churches in the Middle East North Africa region, even the darkness is turning to light, as God’s people love and serve together in Jesus’ name.

By: Tom Mullis, Director of Strategic Partnerships – Muslim World

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