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Muslim Background Believers

Philip Yancey writes about a 2019 visit to Beirut, Lebanon:

Christianity had its beginnings in this part of the world, and biblical reminders abound. Solomon purchased cedars of Lebanon to build his temple. To visit the refugee camps, we drove along the “Damascus Road,” near the site of the apostle Paul’s conversion.

Christians who work in Muslim countries speak of “MBBs” (Muslim Background Believers), their abbreviation for people raised Muslim who decide to become followers of Jesus. Some keep their new identity secret, continuing to faithfully attend the mosque. Others declare their new allegiance, which often leads to family shunning and sometimes violence. Local pastors tell of murder threats against converts. Or, a woman may have her children taken away, and be held in a kind of detention, forbidden to leave her house.

In one city, I visit a church service that includes many MBBs. The pastor says, “Please don’t take pictures. The danger to Muslim converts is real.” I ask, “Why do they take such a risk, if it’s so dangerous?”

The pastor replies, “There are two main reasons why they become Christians. Many have visions or dreams of a man in white beckoning them, and they then discover the man is Jesus. I hear this story over and over from converts. The second reason is simply love. Not so long ago this city was besieged by the Syrian army, bombed every day. Six thousand died, with many more injured. You can understand why not many volunteered to help at the Syrian camps right away.”

He leads me downstairs, to an underground parking lot:

“Once our church got to know the refugees, though, we felt compassion for them. They have lost everything, and live in a kind of limbo, people without a country. So we converted this indoor parking lot into a school that now educates 650 kids. Not all our neighbors approve—we’ve been to court many times. But Jesus' love wins.”

Source: Philip Yancey, “A Refuge Haven” PhilipYancey.com (7-15-19)

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