Abu Belal is from the south of Syria near the Jordanian border. He was inside his home the day that a rocket hit it, and the house collapsed on top of him. Badly injured, his family brought him to a nearby country for medical care. Now he’s paralyzed.
When my teammate and I first visited Abu Belal, we listened as his wife, Nabiha, told us about everything they had been through. Abu Belal didn’t say a word the whole time.
“Is he able to speak?” I asked Nabiha.
She said he could. So, I pulled a chair up to his bedside and began telling him how God holds our lives in His hands.
“God has kept you alive, so He must have a purpose for you,” I said. “That purpose,” I offered, “is for you to know Him personally.”
He didn’t respond.
My heart went out to him as I considered what his life must be like now. All day long, Abu Belal lay in his bed with no television, and even his guests didn’t talk to him. I thought about how bored he must be and told him a joke to lighten the mood.
“Next time I visit, I’ll come with a new joke,” I promised him.
I’m not a comedian, but perhaps I’m worse than I imagined. After several rounds of weekly visits and jokes, Abu Belal still hasn’t laughed.
We’ve discovered that while he can answer questions and respond when spoken to, he has a hard time making sense of what’s happening around him. In fact, after several visits, I am still not sure if he knows who we are.
But that doesn’t discourage us from sharing the Good News of Christ.
On one recent visit, I asked Abu Belal’s family if they would like to listen to stories from the Bible about the prophets. Nabiha said yes, so we began listening to an audio drama that tells the story of creation to Christ.
So far, we’ve listened to the stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham, and Moses. Nabiha seems to enjoy listening to them and always asks us to send the stories to her phone afterwards.
Each time we visit, we also pray for them. More than once, Nabiha has been moved to tears as we pray.
It can seem discouraging, not knowing how much Abu Belal understands. But I’m reminded of how John the Baptist knew the presence of Jesus when they were both still in their mothers’ wombs. It’s miraculous that one baby could have understood that another was the Messiah. But John knew it, and he leapt for joy.
On our last visit, I told yet another joke to Abu Belal. He still didn’t laugh. But he was much more engaged. At one point, I offered to retell a story to make sure he had heard it.
“I’m listening,” he said.
To whatever level Abu Belal understands or remembers what we share with him, we pray that he receives the Words of Life and that they cause his heart to leap for joy.
Day 20 Saturday 25th May Expectant Mums“But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out ...Read More
Day 19 Friday 24th May Children“People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the ki...Read More
Day 18 Thursday 23rd May Men“Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” Psalm 112:1-2Jamshed pushes his cart to the market, ...Read More
Day 17 Wednesday 22nd May Women“They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord—the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorro...Read More
Day 16 Tuesday 21st May The Urban Poor“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1)Alian’s cash is running out. Just before the st...Read More
Day 15 Monday 20th May Refugees and Internally-Displaced Persons“The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wic...Read More