DISCOVERING CHRISTIANITY
(A Saudi Letter)

From The Archives

Early in our radio ministry we shared a special letter with our supporters. It is time to share it again.

Over the course of the first fifteen years, and after receiving and reading 20,500 letters, this letter continued to stand out as being very special. The writer lived in Saudi Arabia. That was significant in itself. It is a country which has maintained a strong and forbidding attitude towards any attempts to introduce Christianity. We remember our amazement when a school principal said that he was so thrilled with the quality of Arabic used in our broadcasts, he was putting it on the inter-com for his school. We don't know how long that lasted but it was certainly encouraging.

With that in mind consider the spiritual depth that is demonstrated by this well-educated Saudi as he listens, reads, studies and absorbs the Christian faith with the God-given means of radio.

Sebhat, in the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia

Dear Rev. Bassam Madany, May God keep you,

I send you my greetings and I would like to share with you the following. My ignorance of the Christian religion causes me to read and reread the books which you have sent me as if I were a person that was starved. I am looking for the truth and that is why I have been listening to your spiritual programs often during the week. I know of no other broadcast in this part of the world, which has anything meaningful to say about this great religion, and this is why I find it tremendously helpful to listen to your programs. I live in an atmosphere, which is dominated by materialism so that the soul of man is smothered.

I want you to know that I appreciate so much the various subjects which you are dealing with and the way you point to the Christian religion. In the past I have received three books from you. Two volumes of "Reflections in Contemporary Life" and the book "Freedom in Christ." Recently I received your book "Family Worship." (Note-this freedom of the mail did not last long. Soon no books sent to Saudi Arabia would reach their destination, and we had to removed them from our list and send only first class mail.) I am very happy with this last book. In fact I am proud of it. I find that every book that I receive from you is taken over by my friends who insist on reading them. They, like me, did not know anything about Christianity and now we find that your publications are beginning to chase away the darkness which surrounded us and slowly we are being enlightened. We see the vast difference between what we used to imagine and think and what we have learned from you-both by book and radio.

I find myself very much attracted to the subjects contained in this book. (The Family Worship book is a page a day devotional book for an entire year. Evidently Mr. Ibrahim read it through immediately and found it to be an introduction to the foundations of the Christian faith.) I find this book helpful to me in all the circumstances of my life. I find myself quoting from it when I meet people. In fact, I have caused myself to memorize some of the contents of this book in order that I may use its subject matter in my conversation with my friends.

The horizon of my life is now much wider. I find in this Family Worship book a summary of the contents of the Holy Scriptures. And now I do not have to wonder any more when I hear the name of a book of the Bible. I have also learned the names of many prophets, and news about evangelism and the miracles that happened in the early years of the church-all in the service of the Word of God. I have learned a good deal about those who spread the mission of Christ in the various parts of the world, such as Paul and the other apostles.

For the first time I have read the Ten Commandments. They have become to me tremendously holy. I see that they regulate the relationship of the Creator with His creature and the creature with his Creator. (Then he quotes all the commandments, remarking after 'Honor thy father and they mother' that this commandment is the cornerstone of society.) All these expressions are tremendously important for mankind, and no wonder, for they have come to us from the Creator of all things.

Your book has also taught me that man should work for the glory of God and for his fellow human beings. The comments on the summary of the Law struck me very much. Our love for our neighbor requires us to look at every human being in this world as our neighbor. Love is religion in action, and in the fulfillment of love we fulfill the commandments of God.

Having read thus far we must say that already we see the evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit working in a man's life, opening his eyes so that he can see great truths and opening his heart so that he can understand. Remember, everything about the Christian faith is NEW to him. It is truly Good News! Continuing on he said:

This Family Worship book teaches us how man may live at peace with God in this life if he puts all his trust in God and in Jesus the Messiah. Truly if man has found such a great basis for his life he can live a life of peace and he would not be worrying about the problems of life. I have found also that your religion does not teach that man should simply meditate and do nothing. I found this in your meditation "Prayer and Work." A quotation from Psalm 5 was very interesting "and all those who trust in Thee shall rejoice."

I have found also that the parables of the Lord Jesus are tremendously important because they show us in a very simple way the important teachings about this life and they warn us against the evil one. The parables of Christ also explain to us how our sins are forgiven and how we should forgive and forget. Certainly man is sinful and fallen in sin and he needs a great Redeemer. I have found in the person of Jesus a person who is very merciful. This is what I gathered from the quotation "He loves the publicans and the sinners" or "He washed the feet of the disciples." I have also been struck by the teaching on the crucifixion of Christ and what that crucifixion has brought to mankind.

I have learned from your book how we pray to God and what are the conditions of prayers and how God answers our prayers. Mr. Ibrahim then quotes some of the sentences that struck him most from these prayers such as: "Lord, I beseech Thee to guide me, not only through this day, but throughout all the days of my life." And "O Lord, thou are the source of all good." (Several of John Calvin's prayers from the Geneva Catechism were added at the end of the book because this is one of the first questions that a Muslim enquirer will ask-how do you pray if you are a Christian?)

Certainly these are tremendous teachings that make the heart rejoice. Naturally I have many, many questions that I would like to send to your broadcast. I close my letter by telling you how much I appreciate all your efforts for the spread of this heavenly mission and may God bless you.

A. Ibrahim

Observations

At one time the Apostle Paul wrote about preaching the whole Gospel to the entire Mediterranean world. We have endeavored to do likewise by preaching the good news in its totality. It would seem that such an approach has evoked a marvelous response. As a testimony this letter is a shining example of the working of the Holy Spirit.

You may be curious as to the contents of this Family Worship book in Arabic. It is a translation of twelve Family Altars (a monthly devotional publication of the Christian Reformed Church) written in the 1950's and picked to cover the following topics:

The Holy Bible
The Law of God
The Lord's Prayer
The Parables of the Lord Jesus
The Humiliation of Christ
Reflections in the Psalms (1-31)
Jesus Christ: Son of God and Son of Man
The Acts of the Apostles
Sin, Salvation and Service
The Prayers of the Holy Bible
The Gospel and Evangelism
Reflections on the Advent

Included at the end of the book are the long Prayers of the Geneva Catechism, the Ten Commandments and The Creed. It is designed to promote a systematic devotional life with a page a day for any year. We praise God that, when it was read from beginning to end, it served as such a blessing. Something has definitely taken place when a Muslim can say "man is sinful" and needs a "great Redeemer." To a Muslim, sin is simply not knowing the will of God-and once it is known and obeyed that is all that is needed. Islam sees no need for redemption.

Times changed. Our broadcast became daily, sometimes twice daily, in most of the Arabic speaking world and more than 200,000 letters reached us safely before we retired from this phase of our life. As our broadcast increased in strength so did the opposition from most Arab countries. Only in heaven will we know the full measure of that outreach.


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