When love is spelt T-I-M-E

Building credibility within the community is essential to effectively sharing the love of Christ, shares Anna and Noah.

Sharing the gospel with those who don’t know Jesus is difficult in rural parts of North Africa, where attempts to minister to the local Muslim community by Jesus followers may result in deportation or imprisonment.

Despite this challenge, Anna* and her husband, Noah*, use their skills to share the gospel and create meaningful relationships within the community.

Anna, from Germany, and Noah, from Australia, first joined OM onboard Doulos in 1999. They served on the ship for many years, but Noah often wanted to do more to spread the gospel, especially to the least reached in North Africa.

But because of the strict regulations surrounding evangelising in the country, Noah returned to Australia to obtain a degree in business so he could legitimately move his family for work to North Africa in 2017.

One aspect that drew Anna and Noah to the region is the strong emphasis on relationships and hospitality.

“People constantly invite you into their houses,” Anna remarks. “You walk down the street, and people say, ‘Hey, come in, have some tea.’ It’s very different from our home cultures.”

Yet, with that strong prominence of hospitality comes a sense of distrust of foreign people or ideas. “If someone doesn’t know you, they have no reason to trust you or trust what you’re saying,” Noah explains.

Sowing seed

Sharing the gospel requires building credibility within the community. Fortunately, Noah’s job does just that. Noah hired a man to help with the business, and as they worked, they talked. “Whenever we were together, I would pray,” Noah explains. Over a few years of praying and talking, the man became more interested in the gospel and eventually gave his heart to God in 2022. He has eagerly shared with others, and now his father and sisters are interested. “To hear this domino effect … I think that is really amazing,” shares Anna.

While her husband can connect and witness more directly, Anna is constricted by the cultural norms in the region. Yet, using her training as a nurse, Anna helps women and cares for them. She has made great strides in gaining the women’s trust by spending time with them. “We often say love [in the language] is spelt T-I-M-E,” she smiles. “Just being with [local people], they feel loved.”

Anna explains that spending time with the area’s women can be as simple as watching their kids while they do housework. It “doesn’t have to be big things,” she explains. “Just simple things.”

“It might be really tiny little steps,” she adds. “It’s not big booms, but just to see that is really, really special.”

In the last decade, there has been a significant increase in people coming to faith, with an estimated 200 believers in the area. Noah adds, “There’s definitely a sense of ‘things are happening.'”

*names changed

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