CENTRAL ASIA (BP) -- Ruslan's ritual Muslim prayers, which he performed five times a day, brought no relief to the ugliness he felt in his heart. He was a tough young man. He angered easily and was a troublemaker in his village in Central Asia. But when Ruslan, name changed for security, first heard the Gospel from relatives in the big city, he couldn't sleep for days. On the fourth day, he visited their church and heard the truth about Jesus again. In tears, he repented and believed in Christ for salvation.
CENTRAL ASIA (BP) -- Anger consumed the "old Ali," and he didn't hesitate to act out on it. Muscular and young, he was confident in his own ability to win any fistfight. All the neighbors on his street in Central Asia knew they shouldn't cross him. When Ali started yelling, they walked away. Rarely did a week pass when he wasn't involved in a fistfight with another man or in physical abuse toward his own wife. Yet Ali knew something was deeply wrong in his heart. When two Christian workers got word that a man in their city requested a New Testament from an online ministry, they arranged to meet him. Ali's comments in that first meeting reminded one of the workers of a children's sermon with language simple yet profound. Ali said, "I'm looking for something. It's like I have a hole in my heart, and I'm just looking for something to fill it."
HUNGARY (BP) -- International Mission Board missionaries Gary and Carolyn Miller are tapping into a Hungarian love of nature to build bridges for gospel work through a program called "The Master's Gardeners." The idea of using a horticultural program to share the Gospel came to Gary several years ago while he was prayerwalking. He stopped to chat with an elderly woman hoeing her garden. His background in farming led him to identify ways the woman could improve her garden. Following the conversation, Gary realized gardening could open doors for deepened relationships and gospel conversations.
SOUTH ASIA (BP) -- Shreya's grief remains raw. Only a few months ago, her husband was alive. Now he is dead. They were such good partners. They ministered together in their church, where he was a pastor, and in the surrounding villages. She was devoted, always accompanying him in ministry, sitting on floors with poorer women, and making food for guests.
EUROPE (BP) -- Brahim*, now living in a European refugee camp, left his North African country in search of a better life far from the war and desperation of his home. Only 22 years old, Brahim doesn't own much. But he does have a phone, and that is how he first encountered the Gospel.
ISTANBUL (BP) -- "This reminds me of a fusion of the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C., and a carnival," I thought as I looked out at the thousands of families and groups of friends spreading picnic blankets on the grass and unpacking carefully prepared packages of dinner. Others possessively claimed a limited supply of picnic tables. Regardless of whether people actually kept the fast that day, the pressure of being seen in public conformed everyone into one patient crowd -- waiting to eat until the evening call to prayer sounded. I accompanied two friends to Istanbul's historic Sultanahmet district during iftar, the sunset meal when Muslims across the world break the Ramadan fast. Normally crawling with tourists from every corner of the Western world, this evening Sultanahmet district was welcoming its own -- an almost entirely Muslim crowd.