Middle East

She Will Never Be The Same

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Anaya’s overwhelmed breathing subsided and was replaced with peaceful inhales and exhales. Her entire demeanor changed. Ellie saw a calm come over her friend as Anaya took a moment with her eyes closed, soaking it all in. Anaya described how Jesus was reaching for her. Her life was changed forever.*

Ellie lives in the Middle East. She recently celebrated her one-year anniversary of living in her new home and praises God’s provision of relationships and opportunities to share the Gospel in such a short time. One such connection is with Anaya, a woman who is from another Middle Eastern country but was living in Ellie’s city for work. The pair began spending time together in a bigger group of women who regularly meet up to make new friends in the city and do fun activities.

Many women in the group, including Anaya, have expressed to Ellie their unique experiences of encountering either Christianity or Jesus himself. “Each girl is from somewhere different in an unreached people group,” Ellie shared. “What a gift to walk alongside them in friendship and point in them in the direction of what their heart is unknowingly longing for!”

Ellie shared that one girl had a dream of Jesus when she was 9 years old but didn’t realize who he was until Ellie’s teammate showed her evidence in the Bible. Another woman learned about Jesus in the past while she lived in the States for a time with believers and seems to be open to learning more. Ellie asked a different woman in the group if she felt like she was in right relationship with God, or if she felt stuck in brokenness and she responded with, “I feel like I am always trying to live up to something and to be good, but I still feel lost.”

In the last year, Anaya lost her job and was unable to find another in their city. Shortly after she formed a friendship with Ellie, she was informed that she would have to return to her home country as she was unable to obtain a work visa. Anaya struggled with fear, anxiety and paranoia from the stress of her circumstances as well as relational hurts she carries from her past.

Two days before she was supposed to leave the country, she was overwhelmed from the demands of packing for her return. Ellie and one of Ellie’s Christian friends invited Anaya to store some of her belongings at Ellie’s apartment. Anaya accepted the invitation and arrived at her apartment, filled with worry and anxiety.

Ellie and her friend invited Anaya to stay for coffee and before she needed to leave, the girls asked to pray over her. After they laid hands on their friend, they prayed and repeated the Gospel to her. They asked God to reveal himself to Anya and they rebuked the enemy in Jesus’ name over Anaya’s pain and fear.

Anya wept as the two women prayed. They knew God was moving in Anaya’s life. They told her how it says in scripture, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  

Through tears, Anaya said she believed! Ellie and her friend were overjoyed! They were amazed to see how God was moving right in front of them. Ellie asked Anaya what she was thinking and feeling in that moment.

Her breathing calmed, and she responded, “I see Jesus coming towards me like a light. I see him putting his hand on my head like he is protecting me … I feel like he is hugging me … I feel so light … I feel like all of the weight on my shoulders has been lifted and that I never have to worry again - that everything is going to be okay because of him.”

Ellie shared that it was a moment when God reminded her of his control, “That he gives us the gift of being a part of watering the seed, but that God does all the growth. I could have never convinced her to follow Jesus, it was all God.”

Anaya had to return to her home country two days later. Ellie and her friend will reach out and find a community there who will disciple and care for Anaya. They ask for prayer over this new sister in Christ and her growth as she steps into her new life. Praise and honor be to the one who uses us as instruments for his purposes. How gracious he is for using Ellie at the perfect time, bringing her through one year of life in this place just like he brought Anaya, so that in his time, another sister would hear, believe and know his immense love for her.


*All names changed for security

Taking Faithful Steps

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Anytime Ellie spoke with her friends about the Gospel, she was overcome with an unshakable feeling – that she would one day devote her life to ministering among the unreached.

During her junior year at university, she talked with a friend who would soon move overseas. While he talked about the passion the Lord had instilled in him to go, her eyes were opened to the existence of unreached people groups and her perspective was forever changed. She was unable to forget that feeling of disbelief that there are billions of people who have never had the opportunity to learn about Jesus. After she received her Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, she became certified as a teacher.

She knew her life was being directed toward seeing the unreached know Christ, she simply didn’t know how. Ellie wanted to obey this newfound calling on her life, but every logistical question was without answer.

She discovered a missions-training curriculum called Launch Global, taught through Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas. She said she clearly heard the Lord’s prompting, “Here’s how you’re going to pursue it.” She applied and was accepted into their two-year program.

Still overwhelmed and uncertain, Ellie asked, “What is it you have for me, God?”

At one point during her training program, she was sent to New York City for a short-term outreach project. As she and her team walked through the bustling streets, they prayed the Lord would present opportunities for them to share the Gospel. 

It was there, walking through the neighborhoods of the city she heard the Lord say, “Pursue this.

She gladly accepted this word but when it came time to decide where and with whom she would go, it was still unclear. The Lord had lead her this far, where was he in the rest of her questions?

After months of patiently deliberating, Ellie met with a couple who had lived overseas for four years and were looking for a team to move to the Middle East. That’s when she heard the Lord say, This is it.”

“I know I’m supposed to be there and with these people.” Ellie said she never once doubted the decision to obey. The last and most difficult question she had left to answer was how she would go when she was attached to years of monthly, student loan payments.

Ellie told the Lord, “I don’t know how long it’s going to take for me to pay off this debt, but I trust you.” Then, she said, “And I had a note in my phone: ‘Apply with The GO Fund.’”

Ellie had put off the idea for months. In a conversation with a supervisor, she was told she should consider this organization that takes on student loan debt for qualified missionaries. She thought there must be some catch or that she would not be selected in the end, but she put her trust in the Lord’s plan and applied.

To her surprise, excitement and joy, she was interviewed and later selected as a partner.

“To be partnered with (The GO Fund) is truly such a gift,” she said. “I can’t believe I get to be here without that weight on my shoulders. Each month I get an email from my FedLoan with a message that says, ‘Your payment was processed today.’ The fact that someone’s dong this on my behalf is amazing and I’m so honored.”

Ellie is now in the Middle East. She and her team are in their first year of language acquisition and are striving to acclimate to their new home. She said God continues to provide generously everything they need.

Lord, instead of asking you to “be with me,” help me to recognize that your presence is already here.

These are the words Ellie consistently prays as she transitions to her new life. When she looks back over the process she endured to arrive at this point in her life, she sees the moments in which God has spoken, moved and arranged everything for her good.

How good the Lord is to bring us to each place in our life and answer us when we call. We need only recognize that he is already there in the details, ready to offer answers like, “Here’s how,” “This is it,” and “It’s here.”

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To Be Willing

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As eleven-year-old Elizabeth* sat with her family in their Michigan church, a missionary who had traveled from India shared stories from the stage about a far-away land and of people who had never heard of Jesus.

Elizabeth listened intently to the man’s heart for the people he interacted with and the ministry God had set before him. That’s when she heard the Lord quietly ask her, “Would you be willing to go to India?

Unshaken by the question, she thought, “Yes Lord, I’ll go.”

Little did she know at the time where the Lord would eventually lead her but this willingness to go would follow her throughout her life.

While attending Eastern Michigan University, she met Jacob*. They were both involved in student ministry on campus through which they met several international students. These relationships fostered in both a desire to see unreached people groups transformed by the Gospel.

Over one weekend, Jacob attended a discipleship and worship conference while Elizabeth simultaneously participated in a different conference. When he was alone, Jacob sensed the Lord asking him what he wanted to do after graduating from university.

Jacob wanted to marry Elizabeth but wanted to obey the Lord’s calling above that desire. He wanted to know what the Lord had planned for him to do next with his life and was confident He would lead the way. “I’ll do whatever and go wherever,” he said.

Then, he knew. Jacob told the Lord he wanted to go to the Middle East.

When the two returned from their conferences, Elizabeth said she knew with confidence the Lord was leading her to full-time ministry overseas. Before Jacob could share his revelation, she told him that she was being called to the Middle East.

I’ll do whatever and go wherever.

Their willingness to go not only affirmed their call to unreached ministry but also their future as husband and wife.

After they were married, they trained for two years. They were equipped and eager to begin life in their new country and yet, their drive to be healthy and effective field workers was consistently overshadowed by their student loan debt. They left anyways, but after one year of living overseas, they had to return to the United States and find a way to cover their costly, student loan payments.

While back in the States, they were introduced to The GO Fund. 

They applied to the student debt repayment program, uncertain if this was how the Lord would bring them relief and still skeptical of The GO Fund’s ability to help.

When they were interviewed and accepted soon-after, they rejoiced in the Lord’s direct answer to prayer and returned to the Middle East completely unencumbered.

Jacob, Elizabeth and their three children are now growing and thriving in their new home. They operate a tourism business with other families on their ministry’s team and have seen many opportunities to share the Gospel with locals in their city.

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Obedience. Their lives are marked by it. Little did Elizabeth know as an eleven-year-old that one moment of confident obedience would lead her to this ministry. Little did Jacob know that when he determined he would follow the Lord’s leading above anything else he wanted, he would be brought together with Elizabeth to raise a family in their middle eastern city.

What provision and exciting new chapters unfold when the Lord prompts us and we are willing to lean in and respond, “Yes Lord, I’ll go … I’ll do whatever and go wherever.”

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*Names have been changed for security.