Strangers become sisters in Christ

Maggie Pearce* was crushed. Her friend who had been so receptive to studying the Bible and hearing about Jesus suddenly seemed angry and closed to the gospel. With little choice, Maggie used her most indispensable tool—prayer.

Maggie first met her friend, Nadia*, shortly after arriving in Europe to serve with the IMB. Maggie, who grew up on the mission field in Africa, was used to multicultural cities, like one where she now lives in order to reach North African immigrants with the gospel.

“[This city] is a strategic location because in Europe we have great freedom to openly share the gospel that is not possible in their home countries,” Maggie explained.

“The immigrants maintain close ties to their families in North Africa, so the gospel can spread naturally back to their homes through them.”

One day her ministry team was at the local market distributing films about Jesus. To their surprise a woman walked up to them and said, “Oh, I love Jesus.” From that intriguing exchange, Maggie started a spiritual journey with Nadia, whose parents were immigrants to Europe. Since her response about Jesus was so surprising, Maggie inquired how she had learned about Him.

“When I was a girl, I was part of a cultural exchange program and spent summers with a Christian family,” Nadia smiled. “I would go to church with them.”

Continuing the conversation, she explained that she had just recommitted to Islam because she “felt far from God.” Nadia did not follow Jesus as Savior and Lord, but she had a strong interest in Him. Eagerly, Maggie exchanged information expecting to talk the next week.

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Six months passed.

“On a whim, I wrote to Nadia,” Maggie said. “And right away she invited [my team] to her home.”

Expecting to stop in for a cordial visit, the team was surprised by Nadia again.

“What have you prepared for us to read today in the Bible?” Nadia asked expectantly.

This was not normal for a first-time visit. Quickly, they found a passage to read. As they finished reading, Maggie noticed tears in Nadia’s eyes.

“She was touched by the words,” Maggie said.

That first meeting became a monthly event and eventually a weekly study. Soon Nadia was quoting Bible passages and almost every time she would have tears. Still she saw herself as a Muslim who loved Jesus.

Maggie, who has a seminary degree in Islamic studies, prayed for the right way to encourage Nadia to take a step of faith. She knew that all her training to share the gospel with Muslims couldn’t replace prayer.

“One day I said to her that she was trying to straddle two paths,” Maggie said. “Trying to walk with one foot on one path and the other foot on another path. I explained that Jesus was the Way.”

Instantly and in a forceful voice, Nadia told Maggie that it was none of her business. Maggie was stunned as she left Nadia’s house. Thinking the relationship was over, she continued to pray for God’s guidance, but wasn’t sure if they would meet again.

To Maggie’s amazement, Nadia called a week later, and she asked them to come for the next week’s study. Her demeanor had changed and she attentively studied the Bible at their next visit.

Eventually, Nadia decided to walk the path of Jesus, but was hesitant to be baptized.

“We prayed for her that she would make a commitment,” Maggie said. “And then we waited.”

A year passed.

Then, once again Nadia startled the team.

“I am preparing my testimony to get baptized.” she said. Six days later, Nadia shared that Jesus had healed her broken heart and she belonged to Him.

Maggie said that serving far away from home has some advantages. In a way both Nadia and she are strangers in a strange land—speaking a new language, navigating the crowds and distances in a large metropolis while seeking connection and community. The team is innovative, using every opportunity to connect with immigrants.

“When we go to a market, the gym, a park, a festival, we intentionally seek out immigrants to share our faith,” she said.

Maggie asks that people pray for the team to be encouraged and creative so that others, like Nadia, will connect with the faith family.