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Fridays or Sundays: missions in the Persian Gulf

By Mercy Kambura

What does personality have to do with evangelism? I’ve always been a man of the people, easily adaptable and sociable. This has become one of my greatest assets in reaching people in a far land, with a language and a culture I barely understand. I serve on the Persian Gulf as an officer on a ship and also as a missionary.

The first time the Gulf called and I answered, I was in search of greener pastures financially. An employment opportunity came, and I grabbed it. On the plane, my heart felt deeply hungry for something higher than what I was chasing. I didn’t know what it was. Later, like the boy Samuel, I recognized that the “thing” was God.

My family background blends cultures from Kenya, Ghana, and Tanzania. Despite my dad having been a Muslim and my knowledge of a few things about Islam and the Arabic culture, I still got many shocks when I arrived. Sunday was no longer a day of worship; I couldn’t just put on my Sunday best and strut to church. Nowadays, Friday is the new Sunday. The weather is unforgiving, and sandstorms are still a nightmare for me. Winter is freezing, and the humidity in summer is stifling. It’s not home for me, just as the earth wasn’t home for Jesus. But I stay because the vision is to bring more people to Christ.

Finding and preaching Christ

After my spiritual hunger experience on the plane, I could feel my heart’s restlessness, so I searched religious books. Like a wellhidden treasure, I found Christ between the pages of my Bible. Excited by this news, I shared it with my sister, who introduced me to missionaries. One day, I attended a Bible study at a church where I learned about a ministry that sends Africans as missionaries. I was recruited and accepted, and they anointed me for service abroad. I returned to the Gulf.

The weather is unforgiving, and sandstorms are still a nightmare for me.

Serving in the Gulf means being a living example of ‘wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.’ I cannot hold a mega crusade as we do back home, and freedom is as limited as the sunshine in winter. There are a lot of cameras, surveillance, and informers too. Although I’m called to preach to everyone, my interaction with the opposite gender is simply curtailed. I did research and made inquiries from the people who had served in this region before I arrived. This helped me know what to expect and buffered my culture shock.

Because we’re primarily stationed in camps, reaching out to other nationalities has become easy. The different languages make it sound like a mini tower of Babel, but I’m determined to preach Christ despite the communication barrier.

Mission strategy

To be effective in serving in such a place, you must understand why you’re here in the first place. Be prepared in your heart and understand your calling. You’re first a servant.

Before leaving your country, get a fact file of the nation you’re going to. Don’t just go because you hear there are opportunities; your purpose is the Gospel; let that drive you. As Africans, may we re-awaken to the favour God has granted us; the freedom we enjoy in our countries is a huge blessing.

The work is plenty, but the workers are few. Where are the missionaries today? We’re losing people in the world. Let’s pray for the world, but most importantly, let us also GO.

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