And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
– Mark 1:17
There are vast oil reserves under the Caspian Sea off the coast of Azerbaijan. Rafiq, like many people in his community, earns his living in the oil industry. Growing up in the shadow of the Soviet Union, Rafiq believed God was an illusion and was not interested in hearing about Him. Instead, he became involved in illegal drugs at an early age, and eventually spent 9 years in prison for his crimes. After his release, Rafiq was happy to be a simple worker, spending his evenings fishing in the waters of the Caspian.
One day after work, a man approached Rafiq while he was fishing. He asked if Rafiq was having any luck and he told the man that he hadn’t caught anything so he really wasn’t fishing. The man said, “If you have faith, you will fish.” Puzzled, Rafiq asked, “What do you mean? How can this be?” The man replied, “Come and let me pray for you.”
The man prayed for Rafiq and suddenly the fish began to bite. Each time Rafiq threw his line into the water, he would catch another fish. There were a lot of people fishing on the beach, but no one else was catching anything. Watching Rafiq work so hard, reeling in fish after fish, the people near him asked what he was doing differently. Embarrassed and not knowing how to answer, Rafiq began giving away the fish because he had more than he could use.
Finally, Rafiq asked the man, “How did you do this?” The man told him that it was not him, but Jesus. Rafiq was curious, “Who is Jesus?” The man explained to Rafiq that Jesus is the Savior, and that He loved him. When the man left, Rafiq pondered these strange words. This was the first time he had ever heard of Jesus, and yet he felt as if he had somehow found what he had always wanted.
A few days later, the man returned and gave Rafiq a black box that looked like a radio [Proclaimer]. He asked him to listen and promised to return. Rafiq took the gift and used it. As he listened to the Gospel in Azeri, he understood that Jesus was his Savior and believed.
When the man returned, he invited Rafiq to go to church with him. Rafiq began attending regularly and has grown strong in his faith. When Rafiq’s oldest son heard his father’s story, he became a believer, too. Today, Rafiq prays that his whole family will be saved as well. Like the first disciples, Rafiq’s life has changed. He is no longer a simple fisherman. Today, he is a Fisher of Men because he heard God’s Word in his heart language.
We are thankful for churches like Friend Christian Assembly (Friend, NE), Hilltop Family Church (Springtown, TX), Grace Bible Church (Sun City, AZ), Calvary Chapel Salt Lake City (Salt Lake City, UT), Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church (Grants, NM), and many others for partnering with Faith Comes By Hearing to provide God’s Word in audio, which is changing lives and creating a lasting legacy for the Kingdom of God.