By Mark Ellis, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
MECCA, SAUDI ARABIA (ANS — October 7, 2016) — When a discouraged Muslim pilgrim boarded a bus in Mecca to return home, he wasn’t prepared for a personal encounter with Jesus and the filling of the Holy Spirit.
“Omar’s life was empty and yet full of troubles,” recounts Erick Schenkel, executive director of the JESUS Film Project. “He was weary and without hope,” he notes, relating a story from a key ministry director in the Middle East.
When Omar shared his dejected condition with a friend, he advised him to go on the holy pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) is one of the five pillars of Islam and a mandatory religious obligation for Muslims. All adult Muslims who are able to undertake the journey must take part in it at least once during their lifetime. The annual gathering during the Hajj is considered the largest assembly of people in the world.
Omar heeded his friend’s advice because nothing else seemed to be working in his life. So, he went, looking for hope and peace, and joined the hordes of white-robed pilgrims assembled at Islam’s holiest site, according to the JESUS Film Project.
He carried out the various rituals at the holy sites, including “Stoning the Devil,” by climbing a bridge and throwing seven stones at a pillar said to represent the evil one.
But when he completed all the sacred rites, he still felt emptiness inside. He pulled aside another pilgrim and confided, “They told me I would find solutions and hope here. I haven’t. I’m still weary, worse than before and don’t know what to do.”
Disheartened, Omar walked to the bus station to return home. The station was normally jammed with people, but not this time. There was only one bus sitting there, and it was empty. It seemed like an odd situation, but he boarded anyway.
The driver said to Omar: “We don’t have any passengers yet, but I can see you have a problem. There’s a store over there. See that large rock? Just go sit on that rock and talk to Isa [their name for Jesus].”
“But why?” Omar asked the driver.
“Try it. Go there. Talk to Isa. You’ve tried everything else.” Omar complied, wondering, How would he know I’ve tried everything else?
Photo captions: 1) Jesus appeared in a dream to pilgrim in Mecca. 2) Pilgrims in Mecca. 3) Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba, the black cube at center, inside the Grand Mosque during the annual pilgrimage, known as the Hajj, in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia 4) Mark Ellis.
About the writer: Mark Ellis is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), and also founder of www.GodReports.com, a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world. He is also co-host for “Windows on the World” with ANS Founder, Dan Wooding, which is aired weekly on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv).
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