Ali sat alone in his bedroom, smartphone in hand, scrolling through the Internet in search of something. One minute he was looking for a simple distraction, the next, someone to practice English with and at other times, he realized that deep down he was looking for hope.
Week three of the Covid-19 quarantine was bearing down on him. His university classes had been cancelled two weeks ago, his authoritarian government’s strict stay-at-home order had gone in effect last week and this week, a close friend’s father had passed away.
He was trying to stay positive but it was all beginning to feel like too much. Would this be the end of his dream to be a doctor? After years of English lessons, years of hard work, years of pushing himself to be the best he could be, would it all crash in around him because of an invisible virus?
Ali went back online and posted his questions about all of this on an English Facebook group that he was a part of. Maybe someone there could help him see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then he went down to join his family for evening prayers and for dinner.
An hour later, with the satisfaction of a good meal and the knowledge that he had a family that cared for him, Ali rolled onto his bed and began to wander once again through the pages of the Internet. As he mindlessly scrolled down his Facebook feed, he saw he had a notification and realized someone had answered the question he had posted earlier.
It was from a man named Dan. His response was hopeful and helpful. Ali typed a reply, “Thank you,” and then tapped on Dan’s profile and learned that Dan was from America, a place called Kansas. Ali wondered if Kansas was near New York. Dan was married, had a family and seemed happy.
Another notification came through, and Ali clicked over to it only to discover that Dan had responded again: “You’re welcome. If you’d like to talk more about these questions, I’d love to connect. Send me a private message and maybe we could even talk in person. We all need a friend during times like this.”
Ali went back to Dan’s profile, studying this man’s face and his family, wondering what it would be like to actually get to know an American. Ali had a few friends he’d met at parties that were from America and who were studying in his university, but they had never lasted long in his Muslim majority country. They seemed more interested in the next party than in studying.
But Dan seemed different. Dan seemed like someone that Ali would like to get to know, like someone who might even be able to help him sort through some of the questions he was wrestling with and maybe even become a friend.
Ali navigated up to the message button on Dan’s profile, clicked on it and began typing.
Stuck at home, looking to connect
Because of Covid-19, people all across the Muslim world like Ali are stuck at home. The mosque has been closed and they are at home, isolated and alone with a smartphone in their hand. Hundreds of thousands of young men and women all across the Muslim world speak English and are looking to connect with new friends.
What if that friend were you?
Chances are great that you would be the first true follower of Jesus they have ever met. You would be the first person to be praying for them by name. This could be the first chance they will ever have to respond to the gospel and be connected with a true follower of Jesus.
Dan is not a missionary. He’s not a pastor. He’s a follower of Jesus just like many of you. He has some free time on his hands and rather than watch another show on Netflix, he’s decided to use it to invest in eternity. And you could too.
If you’d like to learn how you could connect with Muslims online in closed countries, consider registering for a free one hour Zoom training with Everywhere 2 Everywhere and Embassy: Online Outreach Trainings
Aaron Myers is the digital outreach director for Crescent Project, an organization focused on seeing the day when every Muslim has an opportunity to respond to the gospel and be connected with a true follower of Jesus. He served as a mission mobilizer with Multiply, the North American Mennonite Brethren mission agency. Myers, his wife and two teenagers live in South Dakota.