Jeremy and Camille Strickling*
The Stricklings* serve in a volatile country where they’ve experienced bombings, political unrest and the deaths of friends and colleagues. Can God work in such a place?
Jeremy and Camille Strickling* understand what it means to live in a difficult, hard-to-reach place. The couple and their four children first served as self-supporting missionaries among a Muslim unreached people group in East Asia in the late 1980s. Since their appointment by the IMB in the early 1990s, they have worked among a cluster of unreached Muslim people groups throughout Central Asia. In 2003, the family focused their work on an unreached Muslim people group living in one of the most volatile regions of the world. While Jeremy regularly made trips in and out of the region beginning in 2003, Jeremy and Camille realized in 2011 that God was calling them to an even greater commitment. In response, they moved to live among this people group in an area known for violence, bombings and unrest.
Throughout their career, the couple has experienced difficulties and challenges: political unrest, the deaths of friends and colleagues, and the evacuation of their team for security reasons from the country where they serve. In one location, the Stricklings were forced to leave their country with only three-days-notice when their visa expired and the government would not grant an extension. In another country routinely rocked by bombings and violence, Camille said she isn’t fearful, but the situations are disturbing.
“After hearing an explosion and considering the deaths, I always find it hard to just get on with the usual things like laundry,” Camille said. “It somehow seems so wrong to do such mundane things when so many people have just lost their lives.”
Through it all, the power of God has been at work, Jeremy said. In the last 10 years, the couple has seen the church take root and flourish.
“More has happened in the last 10 years than has happened in the past 50-plus years,” Jeremy said. “There are now solid house churches with mature leaders emerging, and they have identified at least one believer in every province of the country. There have been groups of leaders getting thorough Bible training over the course of a year, mostly taught by their own church network leaders, with occasional help from the likes of us expats.”
“There are strong believing marriages that exist now, where children are being raised in the fear of the Lord — with a second generation of believing family members emerging,” Jeremy continued. “These believers face many tough challenges, living in the midst of a very conservative Islamic society, but they are growing in grace in the midst of these challenges, standing strongly in their faith in Christ as Lord. They are producing their own evangelistic and discipleship/leadership development materials and have a vision to reach every unreached people group in their country — and beyond.”
“One thing about befriending Muslims is that they are mostly willing and happy to talk about spiritual things,” Camille said. “Perhaps especially the conservative ones. Many have prayed for years and years for this country, and it is so exciting that more and more are becoming believers. They are leading themselves and making plans for how they can get the Word out. The numbers aren’t huge, but they’re growing. God is working everywhere, even in countries that most would consider very dark.”
*Name(s) changed for security