Into the Middle East

Since I was born, I have seen God work in my life to prepare me for what He has called me to do. I had the privilege to be raised in a Christian family in my home country, France, but all of my father’s family is Muslim.Karen Attar riding a Camel in the Jordan

Growing up, we would go to Morocco every year for the summer to spend time with my dad’s family. I have been around the Arab and Muslim culture all of my life, so when God called me to full-time ministry to them, it was not much of a surprise. The Muslim people are not just a random people group I picked to minister to. They are people like my family, people that I dearly love.

In preparation for full-time ministry among Muslims, I decided to do my internship in Jordan for two months last summer with Team Expansion. I expected to hear a lot from God during this internship, and He did not let me down. He confirmed my call two weeks into it. I felt this sense of completeness serving Him the way we did, and that was all I could ask for.

My team (Ami, Becca, and Joshua) and I were sent to help a team of two missionary couples (Matt and Susan, Dan and Meg) who had just arrived in Jordan the previous year and who were helping with Syrian refugee relief. I was extremely blessed to be part of a team that got along as well as we did. We made “life long pals” that summer!

It was quite interesting to work with missionaries who were still learning the language and who were still new to the field themselves. It gave us a good idea of what ministry looks like when it is not established yet and all of the work it takes to start something, build relationships, and learn the language. What an incredible summer it was! Some weeks were more difficult than others, but what a blessing it truly was. The Lord really used this internship to teach me so much more than just about missions; I also learned the importance of perseverance, discipline, compassion, and team work.
We had four main ministries in Jordan. The first one, and the one we spent the most time doing, was learning Arabic. Our Arabic teacher’s name was Saoussan, and we got to spend a lot of time with her because we were in language school for four hours every day from Monday to Thursday for two months. We used this time to try to bless her and encourage her in her walk with Christ, as well as try to learn Arabic. Our team also learned a lot about the culture and the interaction between Muslim and Christians in Jordan through her.

Our second ministry was Syrian refugee visits. We did not have to go very far and actually just stayed in the same city to find refugees. We tried to bring them whatever they needed, whether it was food, fans, mattresses, pots and pans, etc. Sometimes we even got to pray for them in the name of Jesus! One of the most moving visits was when we visited a family of about ten. We arrived in their house, and all they had was a pot or two, and barely anything to sleep on. They had just fled Syria where their house had been bombed.

One of their sons showed us multiple gun wounds in his shoulder. He was still in a lot of pain. It was heart breaking. God taught me a lot about compassion through these visits and gave a glimpse of how He feels for His people.

Our third ministry was kids’ club. After we visited those Syrian families, we would usually get to bring their kids to kids’ club where we taught them English through stories of the Bible. We decided to tell them the major stories that Islam teaches too but from a biblical point of view. Our last week, we had the incredible opportunity to tell them the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

During Ramadan, we also got to bring Operation Christmas Child boxes to these kids. It was great to see their faces as they opened up the boxes full of gifts!

Our last ministry involved the college age group of the church. We had the opportunity to teach them for a few weeks and did a study of the book of James. We also had a few nights of games and ice cream at Matt and Susan’s apartment with the group. I have to admit that it took us a little while to get to know them, and when we finally could consider ourselves their friends, it was time for us to leave. Our last week was the best when it came to spending time with the group. We rented a bus and got to go to Petra with everyone. It was so much fun. The whole trip back was a party. We sang, danced, spoke the little Arabic we knew, and just enjoyed ourselves. After that day, we were all friends.
Joshua, Karen, Becca, and Ami
The Lord blessed me incredibly more than I expected last summer. He also convicted me of certain things in a very loving way. During one of our last refugee visits, we actually stopped by to see a Jordanian Christian family before visiting the Syrians. They were very poor, so we brought them a little bit of food. The father had asked us to bring a Bible for them. I will never forget his face when he received it. He smiled so big, held it in his hands, brought it close to his face, and kissed it a few times. It was very moving and convicting all at the same time! While this man could not wait to hold a Bible in his hands and read it, I sometimes struggle to make time during my day to read the Word. It really helped me to not take the Word for granted and definitely put things into perspective.

Even five months later, God is still using my experience in Jordan last summer to teach me and bless me. Not only does He teach me about myself and others, but mostly about Himself and His character. I cannot thank Him enough for giving me the opportunity to serve Him the way I was able to during my internship.

Posted: 1/29/2014 10:35:22 AM

 

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