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Walking Alongside Ya’qub

*Certain names have been changed for security reasons. 


A few months ago, a man named John contacted me at my home in Wichita, Kansas. I had never met him before, but John had heard about me from a friend of a friend. Over the years, I have become accustomed to contacts like this, since there are not (yet) many Saudi believers in public ministry. So if someone is looking for one, it’s usually not hard to find me.

John was discipling a student named Ya’qub, a young man from Saudi Arabia who was attending university in the US and who, John claimed, had recently become a follower of Jesus. John was very excited about Ya’qub and wanted me to connect him with the underground church in Saudi Arabia so that he could hit the ground running when he arrived back home. John said that Ya’qub was ready to take over leadership of the Saudi Church. Apparently, prophetic words had been spoken over him, that he had a “massive anointing” and would be a “pillar of the church” and “pastor of the nation.”

A few weeks later, I found out that Ya’qub had publicly renounced Christ and returned to Islam.

To be honest, I was skeptical. To be clear, John was not asking me to help disciple Ya’qub; he just wanted my connections in Saudi Arabia. I explained that I could not expose people like that, especially to someone I didn’t know and had never met. I offered to speak to Ya’qub, if he was willing. 

Unfortunately, Ya’qub was not willing. A week later, I found out that he had never given John permission to reach out to me or to tell anyone about his conversion. Then, a few weeks later, I found out that Ya’qub had publicly renounced Christ and returned to Islam.

John and I continued to correspond. I learned that he loved Ya’qub like a son. I prayed with John and encouraged him to believe that Jesus would get the last word and that there was still hope for Ya’qub. 

In the meantime, my wife and I invited others to pray for Ya’qub, asking God for an opportunity to still connect with him, if he would be willing. 

Eventually, I learned that Ya’qub had changed schools and moved to another city in the US. There he met a missionary who had been serving in the Middle East who spoke with him about Jesus and shared a video with him about another Saudi man who had come to the US and found Jesus. The video was of my testimony!

Stirred by the Holy Spirit, Ya’qub decided to reach out to me. We spoke on the phone for several hours together and then we continued to talk every couple of weeks. Eventually, he asked if we could meet in person.

We tried to make travel arrangements for Ya’qub to come and visit our home in Wichita, but nothing ended up working out. As we were praying and asking God to make a way for us to meet, I received an email inviting me to attend a conference in the city where Ya’qub lived. I immediately called him and said that he wouldn’t need to come to me, but that God was making a way for me to go to him. 

Two weeks later, I drove to Ya’qub’s city with another young man from our local team in Wichita. Outside of my attendance at the conference, we arrived with no plan or agenda, other than to spend as much time with Ya’qub as possible. We were intent on loving him in the name of Jesus. We shared meals together, went for walks together and talked at length about our lives, sharing our stories, our hopes and our dreams. By the end of the weekend, right before we left for the long drive home, Ya’qub repented for turning his back on Jesus and re-committed his life to the Lord.

Several weeks later, when I had another opportunity to visit face-to-face with Ya’qub, he asked me to baptize him. We gathered together with a few of his friends and classmates, and I had the privilege of baptizing him in their presence. Then both Ya’qub and I shared our stories and preached the Gospel to the others present. One of them was a young Muslim student from Malaysia who immediately put his trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior. The following day, another Saudi student also declared his faith in Jesus for salvation. What a season of harvest for Muslims!

PRAY

Please pray for Ya’qub and these other young men, and ask God that they would continue to grow in their faith and share the Gospel with others. Pray also that God would grant Nasser Christ-centered and Spirit-filled wisdom as he is involved in discipling these precious new believers.

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