Abir’s Dream: Growth and Opportunity in Israel and Palestine

By Andrew Shaughnessy, Aug 30, 2018

Abir* and Simon* grew up together in Jerusalem. Abir was raised a Muslim, Simon as a Christian, yet despite the tension between religious groups in Israel, they were friends. They went to school together, played basketball and soccer together. Neither was particularly devout in their faith at first, but when they reached their early 20s, Simon became a committed Christian, and Abir noticed a change.

Abir would ask Simon: “What’s going on?” But Simon didn’t want to formally explain the gospel to his Muslim friend. It was awkward, and so much could go wrong! Instead, he began to pray for Abir.

Soon, Abir began to have a recurring dream. In the dream, he would walk the streets in the old city of Jerusalem in the dead of night. To and fro he wandered the winding alleys of ancient stone until, eventually, he came to a place where there was a hole in the wall. Abir reached his hand inside the hole and pulled out a book. But what book? He read the words, but couldn’t understand what they meant.

After weeks of having the same dream over and over again, Abir realized that the book was the Bible—and he thought of his friend Simon.

“I know you’re a Christian,” Abir told Simon one day. “I know this is your book, but I can’t make sense of it. Can you help me understand what it’s about?”

Miraculously and mysteriously, God made a way for Abir, and when that door opened, Simon was able to lead Abir to Christ. At the time, Simon was working with a local ministry that partners with MTW, and through that partnership he knew Terry.* Wanting Abir to grow in his faith, Simon asked Terry to disciple Abir. For the next year and a half Terry studied the Bible with Abir, walking alongside the young believer and helping him grow in his fledgling faith.

Two years have gone by since those events. Terry has returned to the United States from Jerusalem, but he keeps up with Abir through letters, encouraging him from afar. Recently, much to Terry’s joy, Abir was baptized at a church in Jerusalem. He is still growing in his faith, and serves as a quiet witness to his family and friends. And just like when Abir noticed a difference in Simon, his family is noticing a change and asking questions.

Christians are a minority in both Israel and Palestine, often persecuted or viewed with deep suspicion by their neighbors. Yet, against the odds, the Church there is growing, and God is working miraculously in people like Simon and Abir. Currently, MTW has a number of fruitful partnerships with local pastors and ministries in the region. We have a foothold there, but there is still an enormous need for people to come and encourage local believers, help reform and strengthen existing churches, and build relationships with the local Arab and Jewish populations.

As Jesus said, ‘the harvest is ripe, but the laborers are few.’ Abir’s story is remarkable, but not an anomaly. Christ is on the move in “the Holy Land” among Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and atheists, and the opportunity for impact is huge. 

*Names have been changed.

Interested in serving in the Holy Land? Contact us at [email protected].

Andrew Shaughnessy

Andrew Shaughnessy is a long-time word slinger who spent nearly six years as MTW’s staff writer, gathering and telling impact stories from missionaries across the globe. These days, he’s off working as an analyst and editor in the publishing industry, writing fiction, and mountaineering. He holds a B.A. in history and English literature from Covenant College, and an M.S. in political science from Portland State University.

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