For many months now, Khalid* had been torn in two. His life had taken a completely new turn when he had encountered Isa, who elsewhere was known as ‘Jesus’.
Khalid was hardly able to contain his excitement about the new path he was walking. Yet, in the Middle Eastern country where he lived, talking about Isa was dangerous. You might be seen as a traitor to your family and nation, since anything ‘Christian’ was associated with ‘the West’. While Khalid longed to share his excitement with others, he didn’t dare do so, since the few books available about Isa had a distinctly Western flavour.
He longed so much to tell his story, but just didn’t know how – until that day when he came across a CD that looked and sounded right at home in the Middle East. The CD cover in bright colours. The title ‘Lives of the Prophets’ painted in a beautiful font. The local accent of the speakers. The music. And above all the stories! Stories of the prophets his people had always cherished and revered: Adam and Noah, Abraham and Joseph, David and Isa, to name but a few. Nobody who picked up this CD would consider it foreign or threatening. Khalid had finally found a way of sharing his journey with his family and friends.
Taken by surprise
At the same time, about twelve hundred miles northeast, Shokhrat stared at his phone in disbelief. He had just downloaded this new app – out of sheer boredom and because he liked traditional stories and music. He hadn’t expected much, but this was really good. The music was professional and the narrators sounded very natural. They even used the same idiomatic expressions and religious formulas as everyone else in his part of the world. He liked the respectful way they talked about the prophets of God. It sounded credible and trustworthy. He was particularly intrigued by the person of Jesus. He had always been curious to learn more about him, but would have never touched a Bible. This series now walked him through a story that was so much bigger than he had imagined. Starting with Adam and Eve, he followed the procession of prophets throughout history, men and women sent by God to guide people to the truth. When he came across yet another app, this time featuring the Bible in his language, he was ready to download it as well, eager to know more. He never regretted that moment of boredom, which ended up changing his life.
Thirst for more
Two countries further west, Memyan was furious: her daughter, her own flesh and blood, the child that she had raised to follow the traditions of her people, was helping to record stories from another religious tradition. There was nothing that Memyan could do about it. And since her daughter was already shaming the family name by making common cause with Christians, then she, Memyan, might as well listen to what they were producing. So, one afternoon, Memyan decided to slip her daughter’s CD into their player. As she listened, she was immediately drawn into the stories that her daughter was narrating. Not only did her daughter’s voice sound so beautiful, so full of life, the stories themselves were incredibly powerful. Soon her anger changed into an unquenchable thirst for more, and she listened to the CD again and again, often together with her daughter. This was exactly Memyan’s way of learning: since she could not read well, a book would never have worked for her. But sitting and listening allowed the stories to speak straight to her heart. Trust in the Scriptures started to grow in Memyan and when she passed away only a few years later, she, too, had become part of God’s story.
Countless people like Khalid, Shokhrat and Memyan are being touched and transformed by the stories from the ‘Lives of the Prophets’. This series deliberately builds bridges to people of another faith. The stories tap into what people already know, drawing on their reverence for the prophets who are also part of their own religious tradition. The way the stories are presented removes the cultural barriers that would link the gospel to Western cultural expressions. Passed on in such a way, people are much more likely to see the message not as threatening, but rather as honourable, beautiful and trustworthy. As a result, lives are being changed for eternity in some of the most spiritually challenging places on earth.
Examples of the ‘Lives of the Prophets’ series can be found here.
*All characters are based on real life.