Our ministry spotlight this month focuses on church planting in the MENA region. We look at the amazing story of Pastor Naasir, a church planter that opened his church’s doors to ‘others’, that loved his ‘enemies’ and someone that pointed people to Christ.
Pastor Naasir opened his church to people who had a history of hurting and rejecting his people, and his family in the past. He too, once had anger toward them, but God had brought healing. Simply for hosting this people group, his church lost many members, and others feared for their security, for they were frequently attacked in this area. Pastor Naasir, however, had a heart for people to hear the gospel in this Muslim neighborhood, so he opened his church to them. The church was a beautiful, gospel-driven church. As a result of Pastor Naasir opening his church to this specific group, every once in a while, people would break their sign boards, and do things to show they were not wanted in the neighborhood. He lived there, though, and he loved on these people, and soon they, in turn, loved him–people saw in him the purity of Christ.
The nearby mosque, however, began to tell the members of the neighborhood that if they loved Allah and obeyed him, that they would have to sign a petition. This petition would imply that the church would be shut down by beseeching the government to recognize that the church was not legal—that it consisted of converts from Islam and should be shut down. Sadly, thousands of people signed. The government came to Pastor Naasir, and they showed him this petition. He wept…wept as he read the names of his neighbors–the people he loved, whom he took care of and fed–who had loved him back. These beloved neighbors had betrayed him in the signing of this petition. As the Government Official stood there with the petition, he found he could no longer continue seeing the names of people he has taken care of–to continue was too painful. So he asked the official to not show him the names.
Pastor Naasir had hired a lawyer to defend himself and his church against the over three thousand signatures. On his court date, his accusers brought these witnesses—the signers of the petition. Amongst them, he found dear friends, many of whom he greeted with a warm embrace–the mutual fondness between the witnesses and their accused was evident to all. The lawyer who represented him soon met the petitioners as Pastor Naasir introduced each of them to him. Soon the lawyer realized he was being introduced to Pastor Naasir’s accusers, and was adamant that Pastor Naasir could not speak with anyone on the opposing side in the court.
The judge soon opened the case, and each of the witnesses said the same of Pastor Naasir as they were asked to share what they had against this man: ‘Nothing…this is the most innocent, pure, God-fearing man that exists, but the mosque’s leader told us that if we loved God, we would sign this petition, and we love God, so we signed the petition; but this man is so God-fearing…you will never find a man like him’. Over and over again, they testified to the love of God that was evident in him. The judge withdrew the case against him. The church could continue!
And this is the beauty of the love of Christ–that we can love those who have made themselves our enemies. God redeemed this pain in Pastor Naasir’s life and today Pastor Naasir is able to use it as a testament to His Glory.
*Names have been changed for security reasons