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A Life-Changing Experience

April 3, 2024
Photo: Resonate Global Mission

When Resonate Global Mission sent Ann* to serve as a missionary in a country in the Middle East, one of the first things she needed to do was to start learning Arabic. That’s how Ann met Aziza.*

“I’m not good at learning languages,” said Ann. “It’s the bane of my existence. Nobody wanted to be my Arabic teacher—but Aziza asked to be my Arabic teacher.”

As Ann and Aziza met together and worked through vocabulary and verb conjugations, they became friends. Being Christians in a country where most people practice Islam, they felt a sense of relief that they could be open with one another about their faith. Ann already knew Aziza had unique gifts and a heart for helping people—but she also learned that Aziza wanted to serve God and wasn’t sure how. 

“Aziza was in a place where she had given up serving in the church,” said Ann. “She had felt hurt. She had felt misused.”

That’s one of the reasons why language learning is so special for missionaries serving overseas. Not only does language learning help partnerships with local ministries thrive, but it also gives missionaries an opportunity to meet with and learn from people like Aziza.

“I didn’t have a good experience with leaders in the past, and I didn’t want to be around them,” said Aziza. “But when I met Ann, it was okay because she wasn’t my leader. She was my student. We could be friends first.”

As their friendship grew, Ann invited Aziza to participate in Resonate’s Cohort Middle East, a ministry opportunity for a group of young adults from diverse cultures and backgrounds to live in community, serve in local ministry, and engage in deep spiritual formation. Resonate’s Cohort, which operates in Central America, Detroit, Europe, and the Middle East, provides an opportunity for young adults to discover God’s purpose for their lives and the world.

After multiple invitations from Ann to participate in Cohort Middle East, Aziza agreed—and her life hasn’t been the same.

Aziza found that Cohort Middle East was challenging. With Arabic speakers and English speakers coming together, they needed to work hard to understand one another. For six months they learned how to live in community with one another. They visited ministry sites and asked tough questions about sin and brokenness in the world, and they used and grew in their gifts in ministry.

“I realized I had opinions to share and started seeing new ideas,” said Aziza. “I also realized the possibilities in others and encouraged them to join.”

By the end of the six months, Aziza said she trusted leaders again—and she had grown into a leader herself. Aziza now coleads Cohort Middle East with Ann. And both of Aziza’s siblings have participated.

Aziza calls Cohort Middle East a “life-changing experience.” She not only helps to lead the cohort but also dreams of becoming a missionary in another country someday.

“I never knew Aziza would get to that point. I didn’t know if she would get over her fear or her hurt, but she has,” said Ann. “It’s been a joy working with her. She’s one of the delights in my life.”

*Names changed to protect privacy