Limon* had grown up in a Catholic family in the Middle East, and after he and his family fled their war-torn homeland they lived in England, a traditionally Christian nation. But by the time Limon moved from England to work in Saudi Arabia at age 26, he considered religion a thing of his past. “At that point in my life, I considered myself an enlightened atheist, who had finally left all religion, myth and superstition hanging on some door behind me,” he recalls. “My ambition was to make a fast buck and get back to the world of study, writing and academia I loved so well.”
In Saudi Arabia, Limon met Norman, an American who’d accepted a three-year contract there with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Norman and his family weren’t living in the country only because of his position with the Corps, but because they sought to serve Christ there.
A friendship developed, and Limon and Norman spent many hours in one another’s homes sharing meals and conversation. Limon recalls, “Some of those discussions were somewhat heated, as I saw it my duty to disillusion Norman and his family of their belief in God, let alone a personal God. In my pride I thought they were narrow in their thinking, but couldn’t help it. They thought I was lost beyond hope, though I know they had me in their prayers—hope against hope!”
As the months passed, Norman’s family started to see the answers to their faithful prayers. Limon’s father, who’d also moved to Saudi Arabia, had recently accepted Christ and begun attending an underground church. God used his conversion, as well as Limon’s loneliness and relationship with Norman and his family, to prompt Limon to begin occasionally attending this fellowship as well.
Limon soon learned that this fellowship was using part of the money collected in its offerings to help non-Saudi laborers who’d fallen on hard times. When he asked Norman about the church’s giving, Norman explained that the men had been brought to the country from the Philippines and Thailand to work on construction projects; but they’d been abandoned by their employers and left to fend for themselves on the construction sites where they lived.
The church’s willingness to meet these men’s needs stood in contrast to the attitude Limon saw in many others in the country. “Whereas many who worked in Saudi were happy to make their money to build their fortunes or buy or pay off their dream houses and cars, here were a few followers of Christ who seemed more concerned about others than themselves and were seeking to make a difference around them,” Limon shares. “What was their secret? Not only were they practicing their faith in defiance of odds and dangers, but their faith seemed to be leading them to show love and concern, even to the marginalized.”
Limon felt a conflict rise up in his spirit. “Surely a person does not need God to be good and do good!” he thought. He told Norman, who was involved in the outreach to the Far Eastern workers, that he would give of his own funds to help buy provisions for these men and go with him to assist with delivering supplies.
“Thus began the final leg of my journey to repentance and faith,” Limon shares. Each time he accompanied Norman to one of the camps, he heard Norman share the gospel as well as saw the good news lived out through acts of compassion and service.
And, over the course of a few months, Limon watched the gospel’s power to change lives. He witnessed the man who had been translating for Norman at one of the camps come to faith in Christ and begin conveying Norman’s message of good news with conviction and passion. One week he saw an entire camp—41 men in all—make professions of faith in Christ, and heard these men give testimonies of thankfulness to God. They were grateful they had come to Saudi Arabia and fallen on hard times because their hardship had given them the opportunity to hear and believe the gospel.
“All of this was not without its effect on my own heart,” Limon shares. “I was not ready to make a big public profession at that point, but I knew the system of belief I had constructed for myself was tumbling over. I knew I was now disarmed of my pride and resistance. I knew God not only existed but was a personal God, and I knew Christ had come to save sinners like me.”
One evening in April 1986, after returning from a camp with Norman, Limon knelt beside his bed and cried out for God to save him. “This is a testimony to one man’s faithfulness and fruitfulness by God’s grace—and a testimony to God’s faithfulness and sustaining grace,” Limon says.
But the story doesn’t end with Limon’s salvation. Two years later, Limon married Norman’s daughter, Rosemary. “The Lord worked in ways contrary to what either of us would have planned or expected, then knit our hearts together in Christ.” Limon says.
Not only did God lead them to each other, He led them to serve among the least-reached together as Christar workers. They ministered side by side among refugees in the Middle East for 14 years, planting a church and starting a school, then began serving Arabic and Kurdish-speaking refugees in the United States in 2004.
As they seek to meet the needs of people who’ve been displaced—for example, helping them learn English and find jobs and housing—they have a wealth of opportunities to share the hope of the gospel. By God’s grace they’ve seen a small group of Arabic-speaking believers begin to meet in their home and then move to the building of a local church that partners with them in reaching out to other immigrants and refugees in the community.
Limon encourages believers in North America to befriend refugees in their communities, viewing them as neighbors and people who are likely living without the hope of Christ. “Develop your relationship with a refugee and look for ways to share the gospel. Put this on your prayer list today, and ask God how He would use you in this manner.”
Just as God used Norman’s faithfulness to draw Limon to Himself and call him to share the gospel with others, the Lord can work through the witness and compassion of Christians in the West to bring many into Christ’s family. Limon urges, “Be a bridge! Be a bridge between people and Christ! … Be a bridge between heaven and earth!”
How can I get involved?
- Praise God for drawing Limon and many like him to faith in Christ through the faithfulness of His followers.
- Pray that Christians in North America will reach out to refugees and immigrants in their communities, demonstrating God’s love in word and deed.
Read about practical ways you can reach out to refugees in your neighborhood.