Feature

Restoring the Wheat Field

An Alliance café serves up hope and belonging

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There are few things more beautiful than standing in a field of golden wheat in the warming light of the sun as it rises over the distant hills. As a gentle wind moves like a wave across the field, the hope of God’s future promise of blessing and plenty is palpable.

Our King said that the fields are ripe for harvest. He came to proclaim the good news to the poor, the captives, the blind, and the oppressed and bring them home to the Good Shepherd.

The field is ready for harvest, but in the midst of this beautiful field the enemy prowls, seeking to steal, kill, and destroy. Twenty-first century Europe is one such field. As broken and oppressed Europeans are hungering for deeper purpose and meaning, the destructive nature of Isl-m has taken root—and its captives are yearning for freedom.

For such a time as this, God has called The Christian and Missionary Alliance to join Him in His work. Our small team serves in a city of 220,000 that is home to a fascinating mixture of cultures. One out of every ten people is M-slim—and in a neighborhood called Little Morocco, where our team serves, M-slims make up almost half the population.

In the stresses of modern-day globalization, immigration often leads to rejection, marginalization, and separation between the immigrant and European communities. Even among second- and third-generation immigrants who look, speak, and act like the local culture, they still find themselves on the outside looking in. They have difficulty getting jobs—with around 30-40 percent unemployment.

Even if they find a job, they are treated unfairly and taken advantage of due to low education and training, earning approximately two to three dollars per hour. In addition, immigrants commonly face an identity crisis because they don’t want to return home but also don’t feel accepted by their local neighbors. Their search to belong is deep and heartbreaking.

The Prowling Lion

The hopelessness of their predominant religion, along with the disappointment of unmet expectations in Europe, is leading people to realize their brokenness and to cry out for help. One of these young men is Omar*, whom we have been discipling.

When we met Omar, he was trying to go back to school after dropping out and experimenting with drugs. As our team has loved and encouraged him, he has grown in responsibility. However, he has recently experienced serious conflicts with his mother and rejection from his local friends, which has led to deep anger and questions of identity.

This difficult time has opened deeper conversations between Omar and our team about what it means that Christ is his Redeemer. Omar has increasingly wanted to know more and has already taken a Bible. He continually asks questions about Jesus and life as a Christian, and he has expressed a desire to know Christian Moroccans so he can understand what it means to follow Christ within his own culture.

All across Europe, young men like Omar, who are seeking answers and searching for hope, are being met by radical teachers who preach a message of revenge and promote a victim mentality. This has led to a rise in “home-grown” terrorists in Europe with many of the attacks over the past five years perpetrated by second-generation immigrants.

This is a sobering reality in our neighborhood. Over the past four years, two terrorist cells in Little Morocco have been arrested, and recently, two young men we knew joined a terrorist group. These young men in need of hope are crying out under the burden of oppression. We feel a strong sense of urgency to offer them the good news before we lose the opportunity to bring them freedom.

The Wind of the Spirit

For some time, our team has desired to demonstrate the tangible love of Christ to these men by addressing the issue of jobs and training, but we were unsure of how to do it. After more than a year of intentionally seeking out sustainable options, we remembered an incredible gift given to us by Alliance Women to open a café.

It occurred to us that a café could fulfill these needs. As we planned, we came up with a program in which M-slim employees are mentored by Christian managers and attend job training for whatever field they want to work in. It would be a place of personal and professional growth.

And so our café was born.

We named the café for an Arabic word that means adaptable or soft. It can be used to describe how a field of wheat moves with the breeze or how a tree bends in the wind without breaking. We chose this name because we want our employees to learn the value of adaptability and kindness in this polarized culture.

This past summer we purchased the café, redesigned it, trained Christian managers, and opened October 1, 2019. We are working toward becoming self-sustainable and are planning to hire Omar as our first part-time employee. The level of interest we have received from the community has been encouraging, with more than 25 applications from M-slims and immigrants. They are hungry for new life.

Our greatest hope is to hire young M-slims who are susceptible to terrorist groups and believe that violence is their only option to overcome the injustice they face. We pray that the wind of the Holy Spirit will sweep across their lives and transform them into who God designed them to be. We want to build bridges into these people’s lives and cure their isolation, bringing them the gospel and a sense of family.

The Lion of Judah

The work is just beginning, which is both exciting and a little daunting. Our story, and the stories of the young men we long to serve, are still unwritten—which makes this a perfect time to invite you to join with my team as we pray for Omar and the souls of 20,000 more M-slims in danger of depression, purposelessness, and terrorism.

The false lion is prowling through the field, wanting to reap a harvest of death from their lives. But we have faith and are crying out to the Lion of Judah. As surely as the sun rises over that field of wheat, so the Son will rise with healing in His wings. Just as God is faithful to raise the Son, He is faithful to redeem those from the kingdom of darkness into His Kingdom.

To support this and other Alliance ministries serving marginalized and unreached people, please visit www.cmalliance.org/give.

Pray For a New Harvest

Two years ago, our team was exploring how to practically help our immigrant neighbors. One evening, as we sat with a young man we had been discipling, we learned that a temp agency found him a position, but he would have to pay a significant amount of his savings as a fee.

The Holy Spirit inspired an idea—to start a temp agency that would allow people to find jobs and receive training without a fee. The costs for such a venture feel overwhelming—but we are praying in confidence that if this is God’s will, He will make a way. Will you join us in praying for wisdom and God’s provision to one day make this dream a reality?

Illustration by Kenneth Crane
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