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August-September Ministry Update

Greetings from Amsterdam,

The world continues to experience ongoing and tragic natural disasters, environmental challenges, civil and ideological wars, the pains of a “broken” world, disharmony, disunity, future uncertainties and more. Yet, isn’t there something or someone to hope in or to hope for?

In this update I’d like to share with you the story of Mahmoud, a young Iraqi man, who 2 years ago arrived in the Netherlands after literally fleeing for his life. Thankfully, he has found hope even in the midst of very challenging circumstances. May you be encouraged by his life and also be stirred to pray for him and his situation.

Mahmoud’s story

I was given permission to share the following story, with the exclusion of a photo:

When he was young, Mahmoud was not a person interested in spirituality even though his parents were practicing Muslims. Around 16 years old, Mahmoud had a "vision": Jesus was lying in his bed with him and Mahmoud knew exactly who he was even though he had never studied any type of scripture. Jesus looked tired, so Mahmoud went to get him a glass of water. During that time he could hear Jesus speaking to him but because he was panicking he was unable to recall what Jesus said. When he came back with the glass of water, Jesus simply held his hand, looked him in the eye and said, "Everything is going to be all right".

Prior to the vision of Jesus, Mahmoud said he had no reason to live. He had no purpose, and everything in Iraq during that time (2005-2007) was in chaos. People were senselessly killing one another in order to steal something another person was wearing, etc. There were beheadings of Christians, Kurds and Turkmen. Mahmoud was not afraid to die, but he did question how would He live.

Years later, Mahmoud is now wondering if what Jesus said to him was meant for this time of his life (roughly 9 years later). Mahmoud is still not afraid to die, but now he knows how he will live… with Jesus by his side guiding him.

How did this happen?

 

After Jesus visited Mahmoud in the vision, he began to secretly research about Jesus and Christianity. Over the course of time he understood more of who Jesus was, however, because of his father’s faith in Islam he did not share openly what he was learning or interested in. He did share with his mother about his spiritual journey and she accepted his choice. Mahmoud is an only son. Eventually, his father found out, which of course could be detrimental to the relationship with his biological/earthly father.

Around that same time (2015), Mahmoud and his family had to flee Iraq due to threats on their lives since they were Sunni. In the middle of the night they began their journey out of Iraq in the direction of Europe.

Upon arrival in the Netherlands, Mahmoud’s father told him that he would rather Mahmoud be an “alive son” who believed differently than a dead son. His father decided there would be no honor killing.

It’s been nearly 2 years since Mahmoud and his family arrived in the Netherlands as asylum seekers or refugees. During this time Mahmoud’s faith has been challenged, due to many disappointments concerning the uncertainties of receiving status with the Immigration Department, as well as his unknown future. And, yet his faith has also grown in supernatural ways.

On the first of February 2017, I met Mahmoud in the refugee center after visiting with his mother. From that point on each week when visiting with his mother, he and I would also have some conversation. By mid-April, Mahmoud shared his story with me about living a secret Christian life, especially while in the refugee center not wanting anyone to know his beliefs for fear that it would negatively affect his father. He was clear that he felt God was prompting him to pursue being baptized whether or not he would receive his status with the Dutch government.

In late June, I had the very special and distinct honor of baptizing Mahmoud. He shared during his baptism, “When I was growing up I didn’t fear dying, but I did fear how I would live. Now that I know God is in control of my life, I still do not fear death, but now I also do not fear how I will live (with the Lord’s direction and guidance).” Clearly, God is at work in Mahmoud’s life! At this time, nearly 2 years after fleeing Iraq, he is still holding onto the words of hope Jesus spoke over him, “Everything is going to be all right.”

On a weekly basis I meet with Mahmoud to discover more of what the Bible says and we set goals on how to live out the Word of God. Recently, he indicated his desire to be a “worker” for the Lord (Luke 10:2).

Mahmoud has asked for prayer for his parents. He is concerned for their welfare. Please pray his parents would receive peace and provision. Also, please pray that the Lord would meet Mahmoud’s needs, continue to grow him in his faith in Jesus and that he would be a voice of hope to the hopeless and effective seed planter of truth.

Upcoming furlough in the U.S.

For those who have been keeping up with my ministry updates, you're aware that in 2016 I was on my regular every other year furlough in the U.S., which typically consisted of 3-4 weeks of time with family & 8-10 weeks of support raising work, over a period of 3 months. 

However, beginning this year, 2017, I’ve decided to make annual furloughs, primarily in order to see my elderly parents once a year. That means 6 weeks each year I plan to travel to the U.S., including 2 weeks with my parents/family and then 4 weeks of support raising. 

With the shortened amount of time for support raising, on an annual basis, I've come up with a rotation for when I'll plan to be in your part of the country in order to provide face-to-face updates and meet new people in your area who may have a heart for partnering in ministry through Reliant Mission.  

Instead of being able to cross paths every other year, the rhythm of my annual furloughs will look like this: 
2017: MO/TX/FL
2018: AZ/OH/MI/NY
2019: IN/KY

My furlough this year will begin in October with some family time. I’ll actually be engaging in a fantastic hiking adventure in the Grand Canyon with my 3 siblings. We’ll be hiking Rim-to-Rim in one day, which is a 26 mile hike!!! Then from mid-October to mid-November I'll be support raising. Afterwards I will have a fabulous late November celebration of Thanksgiving with my parents before returning to the Netherlands. 

October 23-29 – Missouri (primarily in the St. Louis area)
October 30-November 9 – Texas (Dallas, Wichita Falls, Austin, possibly Houston)
November 12-15 – Central Florida (Orlando)

I’m in need of raising $400 in monthly support. If you’re a current donor with Reliant Mission on a regular basis, please prayerfully consider increasing your giving. It’s also a goal to meet new individuals or churches with an interest in partnering together for God’s Kingdom work both through prayer and financial giving.

Please contact me for additional information. Also, feel free to email me to set up an individual appointment if you’re in any of the above listed parts of the country.

Please pray for God’s provision: safety while traveling, special time with family and financial needs raised.

United with you,
Linda
linda.kitchen@reliant.org