We sped along the road winding towards a town nestled high in the hills. My traveling companion, Mansour, chattered along in Arabic, describing the town where he had spent his childhood, how he had left many years ago to attend university. “Back then, this road was full of potholes, not as nice and smooth as this.”

Mansour is a gifted evangelist. As we drove along he spoke passionately about God’s kingdom. He shared one story after another, recounting his treks throughout the region and his work in various cities to reach his people with the Gospel.

“The people are hungry to hear,” he said. “Many are coming to the Lord.”

Not in masses, he explained. Not yet in whole families. But as he shares with them over months—sometimes over years—they are coming to faith in Jesus. “And when they do come to Jesus,” he said, “they stay with Jesus.”

“When they come to Jesus, they stay with Jesus.”

We pulled off the paved road and eased down a steep path leading towards a small gushing river. We parked the car, crossed over a small bridge, and followed a path up to a group of small stone houses tucked onto the dusty hillside.

The last time we visited our friends here, an elder son had resisted our efforts to talk about Jesus. As we approached their home, Mansour and I prayed for an open door to share the Gospel.

Our friends saw us approach and rushed out to greet us. The father exuberantly ushered us in and seated us on cushions placed against the cement wall of their old stone house. He handed me a cup of cool water, freshly drawn from their nearby spring. As we went through the customary greetings and questions, I noticed that the elder son who had resisted us before was absent.

Mansour soon turned the conversation to spiritual matters. “Do you know who Jesus is?” Mansour asked the father.

“No,” the man responded. “I am not educated.”

How is it that there are still people who have never heard of Jesus?

When I first moved to the Muslim world, this sort of response grieved me. How is it that there are still people who have never heard of Jesus?

But now, I see this as a joy-filled opportunity. And living in this land, it is a regular experience.

Mansour turned to me and smiled. “You speak about Jesus. Can you tell us who He is?”

I started with His birth, and how the angel Gabriel had instructed Joseph to name the child “Jesus,” which means “The Lord saves.”

One of the sons asked, “What was Jesus’ main work? What was His purpose?”

“Jesus came to heal,” I said. “He healed many people. He even raised a dead girl to life.”

The father looked at me, riveted and surprised.

“Jesus came to do what Gabriel had told Joseph, to save His people from their sins.”

All of a sudden lunch appeared. Shortly after that, we were served tea, and then it was time to leave. I felt torn, wanting to share more with them.

But Mansour seemed to think it was ok, to leave the story unfinished, to leave so much untold. He told me that it takes time for his people to come to a faith decision. Their worldview doesn’t provide them with a context for understanding God as a just God and Jesus as a justifying Savior. Sometimes, it takes a while to lay that foundation; meanwhile, we pray for God’s Spirit to continue to bring revelation.