For quite some time, Khalid* had been feeling that his life was torn in two. It all started when he encountered Isa (Jesus). Khalid was hardly able to contain his excitement about the new path he was walking. Yet, in the Middle Eastern country where he lived, talking about Isa was dangerous. You might be seen as a traitor to your family and nation, since anything “Christian” was associated with “the West.” While Khalid longed to share his excitement with others, he didn’t dare do so, since the few books available about Isa had a distinctly Western flavour. He longed so much to tell his story, but just didn’t know how—until the day he came across a CD that looked and sounded like many others in the Middle East.
Bright colours adorned the CD cover; the title, Lives of the Prophets, was painted in a beautiful font. The speaker’s accent wasn’t foreign-sounding, the music was familiar—and the stories! Stories of the prophets his people had always cherished and revered, like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, David, and even Isa. Nobody who picked up this CD would consider it foreign or threatening. Khalid had finally found a way of sharing his journey with his family and friends.
Taken by Surprise
At the same time, nearly 2,000 km to the northeast, Shokhrat stared at his phone in disbelief. He had just downloaded the Lives of the Prophets app—out of sheer boredom and because he liked traditional stories and music. He hadn’t expected much, but this was really good. The music was professional and the narrators sounded very natural. They even used the same idiomatic expressions as everyone else in his part of the world. He liked the respectful way they talked about the prophets of God. It sounded credible and trustworthy. He was particularly intrigued by the person of Jesus. He had always been curious to learn more about him, but would have never touched a Bible. This series now walked him through a story that was so much bigger than he had imagined. Starting with Adam and Eve, he followed the procession of prophets throughout history, men and women sent by God to guide people to the truth. When he came across yet another app, this time featuring the Bible in his language, he was ready to download it as well, eager to know more. He never regretted that moment of boredom which ended up changing his life.
Thirst for More
In a country further west, Memyan was furious: her daughter, the child she had raised to follow the traditions of her people, was helping to record stories from another religion. There was nothing Memyan could do about it. But because her daughter was already shaming the family name by siding with Christians, Memyan reasoned that she might as well listen to what they were producing. So one afternoon, Memyan slipped her daughter’s Lives of the Prophets CD into their player. As she listened, she was immediately drawn into the stories her daughter narrated. Not only did her daughter’s voice sound so beautiful, so full of life, but the stories themselves were incredibly powerful. Soon her anger changed into an unquenchable thirst for more, and she listened to the CD again and again, often together with her daughter. This was the most natural way for Memyan to learn: since she was barely literate, a book would never have worked for her. But sitting and listening allowed the stories to speak straight to her heart. Trust in the Scriptures started to grow in Memyan and when she passed away just a few years later, she, too, had become part of God’s story.
Countless people like Khalid, Shokhrat and Memyan are being touched and transformed by stories from the Lives of the Prophets. The series deliberately builds bridges to help people of another world religion receive the gospel message. The stories tap into what people already know, drawing on their reverence for the prophets who are also part of their religious tradition. The way the stories are presented removes the barriers that come from linking the gospel to Western cultural expressions. With those barriers removed, people are less likely to see the message as threatening, and view it instead as honourable, beautiful, and trustworthy. As a result, lives are being changed for eternity in some of the most spiritually challenging places on earth.
*All characters are based on real people.