"Most of the people around me live for money, but I decided to live for God!" Asim,* the goalie of one of the strongest soccer teams in his city in a closed country of the Middle East and North Africa Union (MENA), testifies that he plays to honor God.
It has affected his income, though. At the time he joined the team, he was the only Adventist in the entire region, and his request to have Sabbaths off was considered unreasonable and thus denied.
"At first, I was penalized when they realized I wouldn't play on Sabbath. They cut my pay. I prayed to God to help me be a good goalkeeper anyway, and I saw Him blessing me; I don't get many scores against me." Asim's demeanor is humble, but the team could not get along without him. Eventually, they decided to respect his convictions. "I never play on Sabbath, though," he adds.
However, playing soccer for God isn't Asim’s only witness. He also teaches English and French in a school center. "I decided to use that as a mission field as well and told my class about the Bible. I explained that the Bible stories would help them build their English language skills."
Asim confesses the students mostly like the idea that they are listening to British English. The stories become the center of their discussions as they practice conversational English.
With that said, sports and teaching don’t consume all of Asim’s time. He heard a local Christian congregation didn't have a regular leader but only an occasional visiting priest. He stopped by the church, introduced himself as a Seventh-day Adventist, and began worshiping with them and leading a study group.
One week, when they didn't have a preacher for the coming Sunday, they asked him to fill in. They liked his preaching and soon invited him to preach every Sunday. That’s when he began a series on the important biblical teachings to which Adventists often refer as “the fundamental beliefs.”
Asim’s “adopted’ church members are not only learning the simple truths of the Bible, but as he visits them in their homes and relates to their needs, they are experiencing the presence of Jesus in their midst.
Seeing decisions for Jesus is Asim’s favorite part of his tentmaker’s life. For several years, he has led two weekly Bible study groups, composed of both Christians and non-Christians.
A year ago, as COVID decreased in the region, friends helped Asim dig a hole in the backyard, which they lined with heavy black plastic and filled with water. Under the circumstances, it was the best baptistry they could provide for three of his friends, all from non-Christian backgrounds, who were baptized as the first Adventist converts in the entire region. He is not alone in his fellowship any more.
Nevertheless, Asim knows there is much work to be done. "I see more and more people interested in knowing God. I see a tremendous opening for God's work. The four of us are now praying for workers to come to our city."
Asim’s burden is clear. He has a desire to dedicate his life fully to God's work. He has the gifts to be a leader in this work. Today, in a life completely given to working for the Lord, He is using Asim to make an impact on every area of his life and every person he meets.
*Not his real name