It is crazy to think that we are coming up on a year since having moved to New York. This year has been filled with new experiences: a new physical home, a new church, new friends, new schools (for both Sam and Eloise), and a whole new category of learning about ourselves and the world around us. We are continually confident that God uses transition to draw His sons and daughters closer to Him, and we are ever so grateful that amidst all of the change, He is unchanging.
Sometimes in ministry it can take time to see the vision come to fruition, and sometimes, God just has you in the right place and the right time to do something quickly. With meeting Annalisa it has been more of the latter. We actually met Annalisa within our first 24 hours of being in New York at church. Having grown up in Macedonia as a missionary kid, Annalisa completed university here in the states, and moved to New York just a few months before we had. We became fast friends through our common love of foreign cultures, sharing about transition, and doing some couple mentoring with her and her boyfriend. Kimberly and I walked with her as she finished up her graduate degree, began to see her passion and calling for the muslim world crystallize and even the sadness of the breakup with her boyfriend. We have been blessed with the opportunity to see God draw Annalisa continually closer to Him through these challenges and victories. And as we have humbly connected her to Jesus, it has been such a privilege for us to see her unleashed into her calling.
Annalisa is passionate about conflict resolution in the Muslim world, which comes from a passion for the people living in the Middle East. She has pursued this both in her job through a international non-profit connected to the UN which works with making connections in the Muslim world, and in how she pursues relationships with Muslim women in the city. She hopes to spend some time in the Middle East to learn Farsi as she continually develops and pursues her vocational calling. She truly is unleashed, and is even recruiting others as she reaches out to Muslims in Jesus’ name.
Check out what she shared with us in an email:
“We are SO glad you’re here!” I must have heard this at least 10 times last Friday night. I was at a mosque. Right now we are in the month of Ramadan, a time of fasting and feasting for our Muslim neighbors and friends. This past Friday I went to visit my Muslim friend in Queens and break the fast with her and her family. Before we started to eat she asked if I would pray and bless the meal, as I always do when we’re together for a meal. It was a special evening getting to all talk and share stories from our week. My friend and I have been known each other for almost a year now and have become close friends. We often talk about our faith and have encouraged each other through difficult times this year. After finishing our dinner (called “iftar”), we went to her local mosque. During Ramadan it’s customary to go to the mosque after or during dinner to feast together and participate in evening prayers and a short message.
I was welcomed with open arms at the mosque as one woman after another approached me to welcome me and learn my name. While the women were doing their prayers I sat to the side of the room just watching and also praying. One lady brought me a cup of water and wanted to check if I was comfortable. A few minutes later I was brought another water bottle and a plate of cookies to snack on while they finished their prayers. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Would a Muslim woman receive such generous treatment if she walked into my church?” After prayers and the short message, I talked with many of them who invited me to come back the next day to break the fast with them at the mosque.
There is one week left of Ramadan and I want to challenge us to be praying for our Muslim neighbors and friends. This is a time when many are seeking God and paying close attention to any dreams that would bring revelation from him. Please join me in praying for them to experience the depths of the love of God!”
Let's thank God for this encouraging story of how He is using millennials to bring His kingdom in places in the city where the church is not currently pursuing this!