“I really thought Nathan would forget about missions,” Alison says. “I thought we’d get married, just stay in America, and find a church to serve in.”
But God had other plans for her and Nathan.
They’d met in Bible school, where Nathan was preparing to be a pastor. After a year of dating, they were planning a future doing the Lord’s work together somewhere in their home state.
Then, one morning during their junior year, God spoke to Nathan through the Word when he read Romans 15:20-21:
And thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”
Nathan already knew the passage. But reading it this time, he felt the Lord challenging him to consider Paul’s ambition and make it his own—to go to a place where Christ had not yet been named. Nathan immediately thought about the millions of Muslims who had never heard of the Savior.
“At that point, he felt like God was calling him away from pastoring in America and redirecting him to focus on bringing the Gospel to Muslims,” Alison recalls.
But Alison had no interest in serving overseas. In fact, the thought of going to the field petrified her. “As a child, I heard a missionary speak at our church. He brought this huge snake from central Africa with him. I remember being so horrified. Why would anybody want to go to live in another country and deal with snakes like that?!”
Alison simply couldn’t envision living in another country, and she hoped Nathan would eventually forget all about it. But Scripture was too clear and the need for the Gospel too great for Nathan to forget the call God had placed on his heart.
Shortly after Nathan’s epiphany, Alison attended an exciting missions conference. It was there that she, too, began to sense that God might be able to use her for His global purposes. “That conference was the beginning of openness for me,” Alison recalls. It gave her just enough faith to take the next step to the field. She and Nathan got married, finished their degrees, and started looking for opportunities to serve in the Middle East.
“Was I afraid?” Alison reflects. “Absolutely!” But Nathan reassured her that if they went overseas, there would always be the option to return home. “Let’s go and try this for a couple years,” he told her. “We can always come back to the U.S. if it doesn’t go well.”
“I was so frightened about going,” Alison remembers. “I knew that I could have put my foot down and refused to go, and Nathan would have agreed to live in the U.S. But I didn’t want to keep us from doing what God had called us to do. So I agreed to try it for two years.”
But Alison never could have imagined how her willingness to say yes would lead to a great harvest.
They got accepted as students at a university in the Middle East, and much to her surprise, Alison adapted and thrived in the new country. She loved learning the language, getting to know the local people, and sharing the Gospel with Muslim women.
At the end of two years, she told Nathan that she wanted to stay.
They just lacked one thing: a team of partners who shared their vision.
“There were very few field workers in the country trying to reach Muslims,” Alison recalls. “We had a supportive family and church back home. But it was very difficult not having like-minded people who shared a similar vision with us on the field. We really wanted to be part of a team—because without one, we realized it was just too hard to stay focused on the most important thing: reaching Muslims with the Gospel.”
During their summer break in the U.S., Alison and Nathan started looking for a team to serve with. When they discovered Frontiers’ focus on sending and equipping teams to share Jesus Christ with Muslims, they knew they’d found the perfect fit. At the end of the summer, they returned to the Middle East—this time with a Frontiers team committed to serve with them.
During the first few years, their team saw no fruit. “It was discouraging,” Alison says, “We couldn’t have kept going without the support we gave each other as a team.”
But a breakthrough began when Alison and Nathan’s team started praying for partnerships with local believers who had hearts to love Muslims for Christ. Their country had something that many Muslim countries do not: a small, minority Christian community who spoke the same language as the Muslim majority. Over the next two years, God brought them a handful of Christians who wanted to share the Gospel with Muslims.
“We don’t know how they found us,” Alison says. “They’d hear about us somehow. One local believer just showed up at a party we were hosting and introduced himself to us.”
One by one, they welcomed these local Christians onto their team and began coaching them to reach their neighbors. Most of these new teammates had never shared Jesus with a Muslim, nor had they even been inside a Muslim home. They had grown up thinking they had little in common with the Muslims around them. But God had softened their hearts to see that, in spite of their differences, they had something their neighbors needed: the hope of the Gospel.
“As we welcomed local people onto our team, we discovered how important it was to partner together as equals,” Alison recalls. “They needed us to show them that they could actually be friends with Muslims. And we needed them because they spoke the language perfectly and could share the Gospel so much more clearly. They helped bring Muslims to Jesus, and together we discipled them. It was beautiful to work together.”
After a decade of living in the country, the team saw more and more Muslims choose to follow Jesus and planted fellowships of Muslim-background believers. With the beginnings of a movement to Christ in place, God called Alison and Nathan to start a new work of the Gospel in another Muslim country. Today, they continue making disciples among Muslims and catalyzing movements of faith in Jesus Christ.
“I never imagined I could live overseas when God first called Nathan to the Muslim world,” Alison reflects. “But the Lord is so good—He called me, too, and made me a part of His plan to reach Muslims.”
This account comes from a long-term worker. Names, locations, and images have been changed for security.