It’s a jail break! Or at least that is the best metaphor I can come up with. This is a land in bondage but it feels like in the process of transferring prisoners from the jail of Islam to what might be an even more secure jail of consumerism/materialism our Lord is staging a jail break. And make no mistake the Dubai Mall attached to the Burj Khalifa and the Emiratis Mall with its Ski Dubai facility are as much temples of demonic worship as the Grand Mosque. Yet God is at work and in powerful ways.

Today we heard story after story of people choosing to sacrifice and risk persecution because of the life they found in Jesus. They talked about being hopeless and contemplating suicide until Jesus and in light of that basically, they told us, persecution is nothing. Now it isn’t nothing – I don’t know how I would handle threats to kidnap my children – but that these folks stick with it tells us something of the kind of transformative life they have found in Christ. The question now is how we can get on board with what God is doing here and perhaps work to free folks in our own context as well.

Speaking of our own context. Today I was talking to one of our hosts about the fact that we have many refugees living in Harrisonburg and given what he was telling us about how hard is for those who end up becoming refugees because of persecution I asked for the best way to support refugees in our community. His answer was short but profound. “Don’t treat them as refugees; treat them as friends.” There are lots of support systems in the United States addressing material needs. What these friends need are people who will come alongside them and love them as friends, not charity cases.

As you can see, I’m learning a ton, but I can’t wait to come home and process it into actionable steps with all of you. Please keep praying. I can feel your prayers and they are making a difference.

Pastor Jon Heeringa is traveling in London and Dubai and is learning from missionaries in those places. While he is there, he will be sending dispatches to his First Presbyterian family.
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