During one of our prayer walks through our neighbourhood, we noticed a small and obviously deserted Orthodox church. The rusted iron gates were locked and the yard unkempt; proof that no one had looked after it for a long time. Curious, we asked a passerby for details. This is how we met Tabib.
Tabib had lived most of his life in this neighbourhood. He told us that this little church was one of the oldest functioning Orthodox churches in the region, dedicated to Saint Nikolas.
“Fewer and fewer people attended as the years went by,” he told us. “Then fifteen years ago the local authorities finally locked it up for good.”
Tabib seemed very friendly, so we asked him about his own spirituality. Like many people in this region, he grew up in a non-practicing Muslim family. He did not consider himself a Muslim, however. “I am a seeker,” he said. “For me, God is a supreme, distant power, probably not at all like how any of our religions depict him.”
Sensing his openness, we began to tell him about Jesus. He interrupted us abruptly. “You say you are a Christian? That your beliefs about God are the right ones? So, prove it to me!” he demanded. “Show me this Jesus that you are talking about!”
I did not hesitate for a single second. “To do that, I must pray for you,” I answered, with equal boldness. And so right then, right there in front of the rusty iron gates of the abandoned church, I began to pray that Jesus would make himself known to this man. At first, he just listened, but then after a few moments his eyes began to well up with tears.
“What is this?” he asked, bewildered. “Something is moving inside my heart. What is this?”
“This is the real God,” I told him. “His name is Jesus.”
We met that day as strangers, but we departed as friends. Since then, we have spoken often, and Tabib is now seeking after this Jesus and wanting to know more about the one true God. Would you please pray with us – for Tabib and for the millions of others like him who are in this country? May God’s presence move inside their hearts.