A pastor in the Middle East who daily risks his life to share the truth of Jesus Christ said he’s witnessed a “huge thirst” for the gospel among Muslims, who continually ask him for Bibles.
“Christ calls us to go out into the world to proclaim the Gospel,” Pastor Rashad told persecution watchdog Open Doors USA. “Yes, that may be outside of people’s comfort zones, but I believe that is what God asks of us today.”
Pastor Rashad is no stranger to stepping outside of his comfort zone. As a young man in Jordan, he felt called by God to minister to Muslims. Thus, for over ten years, Pastor Rashad has traveled up and down his country to visit villages and remote communities, sharing the love of Christ everywhere he goes.
He told Open Doors that because less than three percent of Jordan’s population is Christian, many people have never heard the gospel.
“In one of the villages I visited -when they heard that I was a Christian-children asked me whether I was American or English. They didn’t understand why I spoke Arabic so fluently,” he said. “They honestly thought there were no Jordanian Christians whatsoever.”
And even in areas where many Christians live, most churches are not open to believers or seekers from a Muslim background, as proselytizing is strictly forbidden in Islamic law.
The country’s constitution allows citizens to practice religion freely unless it “violates public order or morality or conflicts with Islamic law”. Consequently, those who convert from Islam to Christianity often face imprisonment, isolation from their communities, or, even worse, death.
Pastor Rashad revealed that once, he visited some families in a remote village and spoke about Christ’s love for them. After that, he didn’t hear anything back from them for a long time.
“Complete silence until, two years later, one lady called us and invited us to visit her house. We sat together and ate,” he shares. “She told us that our last visit had made the community very nervous; the imam called all the families in the village and warned them not to accept Jesus. If they did, he warned them, they would be expelled from the community, beaten and could even get killed.”
In the past, fundamentalist Muslims posing as Christians have infiltrated his church to spy on his activities, and Pastor Rashad admitted that sharing the gospel can be a lonely and dangerous task. But, despite the risks, he continues to witness among these people. Now, there are individual believers from a Muslim background who worship Christ-often in secret. Some of them attend house church meetings Rashad organizes for them.
“There is a huge thirst. Everywhere we go people ask for Bibles,” he said. “Yes, there is danger. But we believe in asking God for protection, not in trying to stay safe.”
Pastor Rashad is so dedicated to sharing the gospel, he’s even formed a team of former Muslims who are now following Christ, helping him in his outreach activities. “I encourage them to go out, to go into people’s houses and to actively spread God’s light there, and not to wait in the church for seekers to show up,” he said.
Open Doors notes that Christianity in Jordan has strong historical roots, dating back all the way back to the first Christians of Pentecost. However, today, there are about 170,000 Christians remaining in Jordan, and their numbers are gradually declining mainly due to migration.
Jordan, which borders both Iraq and Syria, ranks as the 27th worst nation in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians on Open Doors USA’s 2017 World Watch List.
Last year, a Jordanian Muslim shot dead Christian writer Nahed Hattar on outside the court where he was to stand trial on charges of contempt of religion after sharing on social media a caricature seen as insulting Islam. Additionally, Voice of the Martyrs notes that in recent years, there has been an increase in the number of “honor killings” of Christians, wherein a Muslim family kills a family member for leaving Islam.