Below is a true Boots on the Road story highlighting one of the many unreached people groups along the Silk Road. This story is excerpted from the book, Live Dead Together: A Practice in Group Abiding. Order the book and find other Live Dead resources here.
One afternoon we stopped for lunch at a small Syrian restaurant on a busy Turkish street. “Ahlan wa sahlan!”, the man at the door warmly welcomed in his native tongue of Arabic as he motioned for us to have a seat. Behind the tin facade hiding the kitchen a perspiring cook prepared our order of falafel and shawarma sandwiches. The uneven table rocked back and forth every time we shifted our weight. Nothing but a clock and a calendar with Arabic calligraphy decorated the worn walls.
As we waited, we began talking with the restaurant’s owner, getting to know his story. Back in Omar’s hometown in Syria, he had been the owner of four successful businesses. Then one day, ISIS came to his city and killed several people next door and burned one of his businesses to the ground. He decided then that he had no other choice but to flee with his wife and children and leave behind the life they had always known and loved. Now in Turkey, he was able to open this modest sandwich shop and provide for his family. He acknowledged that they were fortunate compared to many of the refugees who were living on the streets and in make-shift shelters trying to survive. And yet, we could see that he still felt discouraged and hopeless.
The next time we stopped by Omar’s restaurant it happened to be the day before Easter. Omar was excited to see us and again we were soon engaged in conversation. As we talked, he brought up the subject of our faiths asking me what was different about what we believed. This was an open door to share with him what we as Jesus-followers would be celebrating the very next week. He listened, intrigued with what I had to say.
It was most likely the first time he had ever heard the basic message of the Gospel.
How desperately we want him to be able to encounter the God who beckons us to come to him with our burdens and find abundant life and the peace that transcends our circumstances.
Like Omar, millions of Syrians —along with people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia and other regions of North Africa, the Middle East and the Silk Road – have been faced with the decision to either sustain a broken existence, displaced in their own war torn and otherwise hostile home countries, or flee to neighboring countries in hope of finding protection and the pursuit of a new life. Our world is now experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises, replete with complexities, flanked with sorrow.
Although LDSR’s church planting initiatives focus on the unreached people groups of a specific 9-country region of Central Eurasia, we recognize that the refugee crisis has brought a broad array of unreached, unengaged Muslim people groups to us. While we do not concentrate on compassion work, as other many other great ministries exist for, we want our spiritual eyes to be perceptive to the opportunity to plant the seed of the Gospel among everyone, especially those who have come out of an environment where there is no chance of encountering the Gospel.