Since 2008, The Austin Stone has sent over 250 goers to the field. These goers have taken the gospel to some of the most unreached places in the world and, with joy, they endure everything for the name of Jesus. “From the Field” is a sub-series of the “Stories from The Austin Stone” podcast that focuses on these goers. The following story is a transcript of an episode from the podcast where Casey tells his unique story of God’s faithfulness. To hear the goer tell his story, click here.
Episode #50 From the Field: Boldness Bears Fruit
Two years into living in the Middle East, Casey felt discouraged by the lack of fruit he saw in his ministry. Just as he and his wife were preparing to return to the States to visit family, Casey felt compelled to share the gospel with an Arab friend that he came to know and love. In return, Casey learned that his friend was wrestling with the truths of the Bible, and he confessed that, “God was knocking on the door of his heart.” God used this encounter to encourage and endure Casey in his ministry, and Casey continued to pray for his friend to respond in faith to Jesus. He didn’t expect what would happen next.
I’m not a natural evangelist. It’s not something that I have a whole lot of experience with. It’s overwhelming if we go overseas and think that, somehow, by our own power we’re going to convince these people that Jesus did die for their sins and raised from the dead. My responsibility is to be faithful. It’s the Lord’s responsibility to open up their heart.
We were preparing to go back to the States to visit family and, up until very shortly before we left, I had been feeling like, “What are we doing here? I’m learning this language and not doing a very good job of sharing the gospel often or clearly.” I was very much discouraged that maybe this was not what Jesus had for me.
I had been encouraged by a friend who was further along in the language than me. He told the story of how he had a friend who had heard some of the gospel and stories from the Bible before, but had never had the gospel laid out for him in certain terms. But this friend of mine went out with this Arab guy, sat down with him, and boldly and forwardly shared the gospel with him—this is who Jesus is, this is what He did for us on the cross, this is what your response needs to be to receive that forgiveness—and the Arab guy thanked him for it. I was so encouraged by that. Boldness bears fruit. So, I, right before we left, had a friend of my own that I really loved and had known for a while and wanted to share the gospel with. I went out to a cafe with him and asked him if I could share with him the biblical meaning of sacrifice.
I started in creation and moved to Christ and explained to him how Jesus’ sacrifice is the final sacrifice and is the one that covers all of the sin of those who will believe in Him. I get to the end of this part in our conversation and he looks at me and, speaking in Arabic, he says, “Hadha muqnae jidanaan,” which means, “That is very convincing.”
We proceeded to have about an hour-long conversation and the gist of it was that he was really wrestling with who Jesus was. He had a recurring dream that he felt was God speaking to him. There would be a light in the distance and he desired to arrive at that light, to get to it in the dream, but he didn’t have the energy or ability to get there. He said to me in Arabic, “I feel like something is knocking on the door of my heart.” I just about fell out of my chair. I leaned forward and said, “I’m just going to speak frankly with you here, but that’s exactly what Jesus says that He does. He says He knocks on the doors of our hearts.” He went on to say, “I’m putting my hand on the doorknob and taking it off and putting my hand on the doorknob and taking it off.” He said, “I feel ghyr muakad,” which means uncertain. He said, “For all of my life, I’ve had this set of beliefs and this direction for my life, but here’s this and I recognize that if I believe this, I have to be fully committed.” I affirmed him in all of those things and just tried to encourage him that I felt that it was very clear to me that God was actually speaking to him and working on his heart—that He truly was knocking on the door to his heart.
He asked me, “Who do you say Jesus is? Is He God or is He something else?” And I said, “Jesus is God.” His response was, “You know, Jesus is different than all the other prophets.” And he proceeded to tell me that all the other prophets had some ritual or set of steps that they would take. Moses had his staff or the prophets would fast and then a miracle would occur. But then he said, “Jesus had the power to heal.” And he was preaching to me about who Jesus is and how He’s different
than all the other prophets. For a Muslim to respond to the idea of Jesus being God in a positive manner is, in my experience, so rare, and it happened the day before we left. I had been so discouraged for months and then God just put this in my lap for my encouragement, and obviously slotted me into this man’s life for his moving forward in the faith.
We’re certainly praying that he’ll come to faith. He’s not yet committed to Christ, but in that conversation he did commit to start reading the Bible with me and he said, “The world pulls you in all these directions so I want people around me to read with me so that I can stay focused on the most important
things.” And I was like, “Yeah man let’s do it.” I mean, that was, with a nonbeliever, probably the most significant conversation I’ve ever had. I was just blown away by it. It was so filling and encouraging for me, after having a number of discouraging experiences, to realize that those don’t mean that Jesus isn’t at work or that He can’t use me. That conversation was the major reason, the major encouragement, for us coming back. We were in the States with family, my wife was
pregnant, we had missed our families, and it felt good to be in a place that we still felt like was home for us in a lot of ways. But, every time I thought, “Man, what are we doing living in the Middle East?” I just remembered my friend and said, “That’s why we’re in the Middle East. That’s why we need to go back. Because he wants to read Scriptures, and he wants to read them with me.”
Three months after we recorded this interview with Casey, he gave us a call. Here’s what he had to say.
Last time, we talked about how my friend wanted to read the Scriptures. Fast forward a couple of months, we got to read several times together. I shared the gospel with him again. It was myself, another friend of mine, and this guy and at the end of my presentation of the gospel, I asked him “Where would you say you’re at? Are you still living in the world? In brokenness? Still trying to face this brokenness on your own? Or are you in God’s kingdom?” And he said to me “Bialtaakid
fi malakut allh,” which is like, “For sure in the kingdom of God.”
He told me two things that, in his mind, confirmed for him that he is truly in God’s kingdom. The first thing is, he said in Islam, he had not experienced any power for change. He said, “I would go into the mosque and I would come out of the mosque the exact same. Once I started trying Jesus’ path, I started to change. I experienced God’s power to change in my life.”