With our recent wintry weather the farmers in southern Minnesota have had to hit the pause button with harvest. God-willing they will be able to resume the harvest soon.
The harvest of souls sometimes encounters a pause. It seems now that our country is on a pause. Something is holding us back from harvesting as many souls as we used to in the United States. But it is only a pause. The harvest of souls cannot be stopped for long, especially with organizations around like the one we are going to focus on in this post: People of the Book Lutheran Outreach, aka POBLO.
POBLO is one of a growing number of organizations that seeks to bring missionaries here from other countries to do mission work here in the US. These missionaries to America often have very compelling stories of how they came to believe in Christ and the many struggles they have had because of their faith.
POBLO is an international mission movement that was founded in 1993. Based in Clinton Township, Michigan, POBLO trains and sends missionaries to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to new Americans, aka immigrants and refugees.
The current leader of POBLO is a man by the name of Khurram Khan, a man originally from Pakistan. He grew up in a Christian family, went to school to become and engineer and found himself working for an oil company in Saudi Arabia. There is Saudi Arabia he met a group of Christians who met in secret. Eventually Mr. Khan ended up coming to America and training to be a pastor at Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN. Then the Lord led him to become involved in the work and leadership of POBLO.
POBLO has trained and sent over 100 missionaries to work here in the US and overseas, mostly with Muslims. They are at work in 10 states around the country and overseas.
Typically the ministry is started through human care outreach. It starts with an International Friendship Center (IFC) in areas where there are a lot of immigrants and refugees. At a typical IFC a person can find English lessons, sewing lessons, cooking lessons, job training, citizenship classes, help with everyday needs and more.
Every effort is also made to develop friendships with those who come to the IFC. This is done through social activities, meals, outings and casual conversation.
Typically when a person comes to faith through the efforts of POBLO they lose their family. Very common. POBLO people then have to become their new family. It is very personal.
The closest IFC to Owatonna is in Rochester where a lot of ordinary, southern Minnesota Lutherans are building relationships with the great variety of people who live in Rochester.
There has been talk for the last several years of opening an International Friendship Center in the Faribault, Northfield, Owatonna area.
People of the Book is use this phrase to refer to Christians because that is the phrase used to refer to Christians in the Quran.
Would people identify you as a person of the book, someone who lives by the teachings of THE BOOK, namely, the Bible?
The first Lutherans were certainly people of the book. Martin Luther and the other leaders of the Reformation insisted on following the teachings of the Bible. Sola Scriptura – Scripture alone – was one of their mantras. People of the Book is synonymous with Lutheran.
THE BOOK reveals to us that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (Romans 3:23-24, ESV) We are called to hold on to and continue in this faith despite all that the world does to us.
One of POBLO’s missionaries in Texas is Julie Aftab who is originally from Pakistan. The story of her struggles is so compelling it that it was featured on some of the major news outlets in the US.
Julie survived an acid attack at work, being poisoned by a doctor, being shot twice and a cancerous tumor behind her eye. She eventually made it to Texas where she endured over 30 surgeries to repair damage caused by the acid. During all her struggles the Lord appeared to her and told her that her life was now his.
She has now graduated college, gotten married and had a son. Many times she was been told things could never happen but by God’s grace they have.
Despite all she has been through she does not hate anyone. She is completely focused on the great things God has done for her. Every morning when she looks in the mirror and sees her scars she tells herself, “My scars are my jewel.”
Here is a link to a YouTube video of Julie Aftab’s compelling story:
Would those who know you identify you as a person of the book, THE BOOK, the holy Bible? The harvest of souls may have paused briefly here in America but with all the missionaries who are coming here from foreign countries the harvest will go on.