For most, birthdays are happy days with singing, cake, candles, and quality time with friends and family. It’s fun, but a once-a-year occasion that comes and goes along with the frosting and the smoke of the candles. But for one woman in the Middle East, her 31st birthday became the first day of a new life.
Haggai leader, pastor, and IT manager J* of Saudi Arabia was having lunch with friends at a small hotel in Quva, Uzbekistan. As they waited for their order, a young Saudi woman sitting alone at her table asked them to join her for a moment. She told them it was her birthday and asked if they would celebrate with her. They sang “Happy Birthday,” shared conversation, and J sparked a quick friendship with this young woman, M*.
Haggai leader J in Quva, Uzbekistan.
“Afterward, M invited us to join her back at her house,” J says. “Of course, we couldn’t say no, because this gave us more time to share the Gospel with her. We followed her home, where we met her large, extended family. We shared the Gospel through John 3:16, sang songs together, and explained what it meant that Jesus died for them.”
A seed was planted. Hearts were changed. Souls were on the verge. What a surprise for both sides of this story — that M would face a life-changing decision as a result of a simple request to share her birthday moment, and that J and her friends would go from having a simple lunch to introducing salvation in the home of a family they’d never met before. This kind of story drives J toward her goal of sharing the Gospel with 2,000 non-Christians in the next two years, and this is only one on a list of great moments.
She works to spread the Good News with the Gospel poor in her country in three ways: she travels to different cities around Saudi Arabia, equipping Christians to share the Gospel of Jesus; she visits nations where many haven’t heard that story at all; and she plants new churches. She spends time doing outreach ministry at local parks, inside the malls, and combing the beach — anywhere she can touch hearts and minds with the love God wants them to know.
Her story with M ended with happy tears and a hopeful prayer for peace in her heart — that the seed of the Gospel would reap a plentiful harvest one day throughout Gulya’s whole house. J knows that her work will continue and is inspired to reflect on stories like this.
“After attending the Virtual Haggai Leader Experience, I was enlightened to the fact that discipleship is a commitment to leave and follow,” J says. “Loving and leading others into a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and helping others grow in the grace and knowledge of Him, as it says in 2 Peter 3:18. I made a vow before the Lord: I will give my life and all that it costs to serve Him until every nation, tongue, and tribe will stand before His throne and proclaim, ‘Salvation belongs to our God.’”
With a personal mantra to “Restore, Revive, Receive,” J will continue preaching the Gospel to all nations “to restore and revive believers to become disciples of Jesus Christ, hence becoming revolutionaries who will change the world upside down, and end Gospel Poverty.”
That’s a celebration worth having more than once a year.
*Names hidden for security.
Written by Jennifer Colosimo