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Seminary couple in Mideast focus on ministry more than war

IN THE MIDDLE EAST (BP)–Despite the dangers of working in a restricted access country, Kate and Bill Garrett* said they are willing to take the risk in order to spread the gospel among Muslims.

“I pray that a war will not happen,” said Bill Garrett, who is enrolled in Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s “two-plus-two” missions degree program. “But the threat of war has not changed our resolve to be here and serve these people. Their salvation is more important to me than any war.”

The Garretts, along with their two children, ages 13 and 7, are in their fifth month as Southeastern students in a country in the turbulent Middle East. However, a possible war has not dampened their resolve to share the love of Christ in the region.

The Garretts call their Middle Eastern village of 200,000 “home” and plan on investing every moment of their two-year stint in the lives of the villagers.

“God has shown himself completely faithful,” Kate Garrett said. “God has opened so many doors for us to minister to people. Sometimes there is more than one door open at a time.”

The Garretts are the only westerners living among the Muslims, yet the villagers refer to them as “family.”

“The leaders of the village say that they see the love we have for one another and they say they love us too,” Bill Garrett said. “They tell us all the time that ‘our home is your home.'”

In November, the Garretts invited three Muslim families to join them in a traditional Christian Thanksgiving dinner. Bill Garrett read Psalm 100 and then asked one of the Muslim men to translate the Psalm into his heart language for the whole group to understand.

“As I saw my Muslim friend translating Psalm 100 during our Thanksgiving dinner, all I could do was envision my friend leading an authentic outreach movement for peace among his people,” Garrett said with tears flowing down his cheeks. “This is exactly what we want to see happen.”

At the end of the Thanksgiving dinner, the Garretts’ 13-year-old daughter passed out handmade paper leaves for the guests to write something for which they were thankful for in their own language.

“Each of our guests wrote the same thing: ‘We are thankful that you have come to join our village,'” Kate Garrett said.

The Garretts believe God strategically appointed them to this region during this time of crisis.

“The doors have been open to spread the gospel,” Bill Garrett said. “Now we just have to be obedient and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit.”
*Names have been changed and locations are generalized in order to protect mission workers. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: WAR NOTWITHSTANDING and RESOLVED TO WITNESS.

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  • Kelly Davis