Have you ever come away from a first meeting with a fellow believer, moved by realizing “we share the same heart”?! Not just like-minded but sharing the same heart…in Christ.
Susan and I have been blessed by that experience more times than we can count. Once again we shared that blessing at the 4G3 Middle East Gala.
50% of the attendees did not have any prior contact with Wahid and Laila or knowledge of their ministry, For the Global Glory of God, otherwise known as 4G3. What a wonderful opportunity we shared with other table hosts and sponsors to introduce so many fellow believers to the vision and mission of 4G3. From the moment we arrived, it was evident a spirit of joy, and excitement, filled the room. Isn’t it always that way when Jesus is honored and praised? Tables were decorated with Middle Eastern items as well as information and prayer cards about the five countries where 4G3 is establishing new Discipleship Institutes. Prayer Posters for each country were positioned on easels around the room. Middle Eastern Hibiscus tea was served as everyone arrived and gathered in conversation.
We talked with one guest after another that shared the same excitement about hearing and participating in the work of the Lord through 4G3. We had never met any of the people seated at our table, but we quickly discovered, once again, we all shared the same heart. Hearts for the Word and for sharing Christ. Tonight was about how we love and encourage our brothers and sisters experiencing persecution and the struggle of refugees to remain steadfast in faith.
1 Corinthians 12:24-25 says, “But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.”
We were moved by the story of Marjorie Smith, who gave honor through her love and support to encourage Wahid and Laila. Early in the life of their ministry, 30 years ago, the Wahba’s visited a fellow dentist in the US that had ministered in the garbage collectors’ area of Cairo with Wahid. They met 94-year-old Marjorie at their colleague’s home. As Laila tells it, they mentioned being new in ministry and the desire to learn more in theological studies but lacked funds to pursue it seriously. She thought it was just “chit-chat”, something simply mentioned in passing. A month later, back in Egypt, they received a note and check from Marjorie for four years of study for both of them at Moody Bible Institute. They saw Marjorie only that one time, they never saw her again, but they shared the same heart…and what an impact she made!
God moved in Majorie’s heart to give honor, not in human terms, but in His eyes, to equip Wahid and Laila to spread the Gospel according to his call on their hearts. The fruit of her gift led to the founding of MELTI, the Middle East Leadership Training Institute and its reach to over 800,000 new believers over the past 20 years.
We are greatly encouraged to give “greater honor” and support these fellow believers. Susan and I too often take for granted how easily we can order a devotional or study course on-line and have it delivered to our door, often the next day. We want to participate with 4G3 to provide resources to these brothers and sisters who are hungry for material. We are also encouraged by the opportunity for deep relationships these Institutes provide for the students who are often otherwise isolated from the fellowship of other believers; again something we take for granted as we’re free in our own community to attend Bible studies and church.
Never has the realization of sharing the same heart landed on us so profoundly as when we met some of these displaced and persecuted Christians. In a couple of trips to the Middle East, we’ve been blessed as they have encouraged us with a joy that only comes from the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives. The connection in His love is immediate. We indeed share the same heart in Christ!
Everyone desires a scriptural understanding of their circumstances. These dear brothers and sisters have a Spirit-led hunger for deeper knowledge and understanding they can share and encourage others in the circumstances they share.
We pray that “equal concern” is demonstrated in our lives for those served by 4G3 through the Discipleship Institutes. What a blessing and privilege it is to share in this ministry with such dear and sincere giants of the faith, Wahid and Laila.
As the next verse says, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored every part rejoices with it.” (1 Cor 12:26)
Rob and Susan Turner