Steph’s Story: Searching for an Open Door

On Go. Serve. Love, we talk a lot about strategies to reach the 4.13 billion unreached.

This month, we’re geared up to share stories from Avant Ministries, which since 1892 has focused on planting and developing the church in unreached areas of the world.

Through church planting, church support ministries, media, education, camp and business, Avant hopes to establish churches among the unreached: mature, nationally-led churches that desire to plant more churches, first in their own city, and then all over the world.

Avant trains, sends and serves missionaries in over 50 countries globally. Today, we share Steph’s story as a trainee. 

door

It was a cold January night in Kansas City. Breath puffed from my lips as I knocked on the first door, my friend John beside me.

“Hi, I’m Steph. My friend John and I are going around the area to pray with people. Do you have anything you’d like us to pray for?”

Sometimes doors opened; other times no one would answer. We were often answered with refusal or silence. Still, we plodded up each flight of stairs to the apartments’ next level.

For the past week, eleven other missionaries and I had been listening, studying, and implementing everything we’d been learning at the Avant training center. Tonight we’d disperse into the community to pray with individuals and share the gospel with those who were willing to listen.

By the look on some of my team members’ faces, I could tell they were as nervous as I was. Gratitude fortified me like a pair of mittens around my heart: I knew we didn’t go alone.

Driving to the apartments that night, John had responded helpfully to my peppered questions about him, the community, and the population living there.

My cheeks were pinkening with the chill by the time we arrived at door 360. I admit it: When I learned his name was Muhammad, I assumed he’d close the door with a concise “No” like his neighbors.

But Muhammad answered, “No. But would you like to come in?”

For the next forty five minutes Muhammad asked questions about the Trinity and the birth of Jesus. John and I also learned about Muhammad’s family and their journey to America.

The Open-Door Question

In some African cultures, if a male is leading the conversation, like Muhammad, and someone else has something to add, it’s better for another male to ask a question rather than a female. As the topic of conversation changed, I glanced at John and could see he was thinking the same thing. John asked: “Muhammad, if you were to die today and God asked, ‘Why should I let you into Heaven?’–what would you say?”

From experience, I was already anticipating Muhammad’s answer, but his reply still surprised and saddened me. Muhammad said, “Yes, I’m 99.9% sure I’d go to Heaven, because I’ve never killed anyone. I pray and read the Koran. I’m a good person.”

At that moment, I saw a man who at first was so confident. But when I looked into his eyes again, I saw a completely different emotion.

Instead of assurance, I saw loneliness and someone searching for the truth. I will always remember this moment.

For the rest of our stay in Muhammad’s apartment, John shared how Muhammad could be 100% sure he’d be going to Heaven when he dies.

stand at the door and knock

No, Muhammad didn’t surrender his life to Christ that night.

But he did receive the answers to the questions he’d been searching for.

As I think of that cold night in January and we proceed through the seasons, I trust God to continue harvesting the seed that’s been planted and watered like He promised (1 Cor. 3:6-9, Mark 4).

He’s the one of whom Revelation says, “What He opens, no one will shut; and what He shuts, no one will open” (3:7).

I have to ask myself. What doors might he be holding open?

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