When a single mother of three children in North Africa, Shahd*, phoned native missionaries to say the pandemic had left her without stable income, they assumed that was the main reason she was calling.
“But her voice, mixed with tears and moans, said this was not her biggest problem,” the leader of the native ministry said.
Her troubles were deeper, going back years. Shahd’s husband had abandoned her eight years ago, leaving her without financial support, and she said four years ago she sold one of her kidneys to pay basic living expenses.
“She thought that even if she passed away, her children would get enough money to live a decent life,” the leader said. “This hit us badly – how could loneliness and poverty push someone to do such thing?”
The 42-year-old Shahd had found work as a school bus supervisor, but income from that job vanished after the pandemic shut down school attendance. The money she got from selling her kidney had not been enough to pay off the debts incurred to help her family survive, the leader said.
“That caused a monthly threat from creditors, who could attack her in case of not paying on time,” he said.
Each month Shahd begged from anyone she knew to help her pay rent, the leader said. Now Shahd said she was hoping to sell part of her liver.
“No one could imagine that, by the end of the call, she would say that she was about to sell part of her liver to get thousands of dollars more – but, fortunately, she exceeded the age limit for this surgery,” he said.
The leader assured her that God had not forgotten her in spite of everything she had been through and that, just as the Lord’s heart was tender toward Hagar in Genesis chapter 21, He was compassionate toward her and her children as well. He assured Shahd that local missionaries would begin devising ways to help her.
Immediately they began making arrangements to pay off three months of her overdue rent, pay off a month of her loan, regularly provide her with food and set up the means for her to earn income selling clothes.
“We were with her step by step to set up this project,” the leader said. “We met her at the wholesale clothing district, and we bought everything she needed.”
Workers were pleasantly surprised to see Shahd undertake the project “like a dynamo,” plunging in with all her energy. Shahd later shared – with excitement in her voice – how she was receiving many orders.
“With every message or phone call, we experienced how the tears of shame, helplessness and loneliness turned into tears of joy, gratitude and contentment,” the leader said. “We thank the Lord for His love and divine interventions in the lives of such women regardless of color, religion, gender or race. He is God who is love.”
Such stories of desperation transformed into joy, plentiful at various ministries in the region, soften hearts to the message of Christ’s salvation.
Another native ministry in North Africa also helps girls and women to overcome abuse and oppression rooted in local culture, showing how the Triune God reflects and affirms femininity. The ministry director said that while such projects, including counseling and vocational training, help Muslims and others become open to the gospel, the Lord also uses gospel campaigns to bring people to Himself.
In 10 evangelistic campaigns in two cities, local missionaries recently led 50 people to faith in Christ Jesus, he said. In spite of the pandemic, workers shared the gospel with 2,000 people through individual sharing, social media and other online means, the leader said.
“One of the persons I am following up with now had been overtaken by addiction,” he said. “He was separated from his family, and his kids were devastated as no one was providing for their needs or school; they were about to beg in the streets.”
Tending to his immediate physical needs and introducing the addict to the ministry’s recovery program, the director had ample opportunities to tell him about the heavenly Father sending His Son to die for humanity’s sin.
“He accepted the Savior, entered the healing center, began the healing journey, returned to his family and is now working hard to provide for the needs of his home and kids,” the director said. “Everyone is wondering how he changed and how his family members are now following Jesus, as He rescued them all from destruction.”
Local missionaries are bringing the love of Christ to troubled souls throughout the region. Please consider a donation today to equip and strengthen them for the challenge.
*Name changed for security reasons