Taylor* fled from his home country to Croatia when someone tried to kill him for helping some Americans. He applied for asylum on three separate occasions, but he was rejected each time because there was not enough evidence to corroborate his story.
While he continued to apply, Taylor began taking an English class taught by missionary Betsy Scott at the Porin asylum facility. At the same time, Pastor Emmett, the Arabic pastor at Zegrab Church of the Nazarene, invited Taylor to church.
“One day, I just remember seeing him at church,” Scott said. “I was so excited to see him! I was a bit dumbfounded because I knew of his beliefs, and I also had never seen him outside of the classroom context. He seemed really excited to see our church.”
Scott recalls that in the beginning, Taylor missed his traditions and asked if he could pray in the church basement on two separate occasions. The leadership team did not want to compromise theologically or change their Christian identity to make people feel more comfortable, so they denied his request. The team was afraid that Taylor would not feel welcome, but that was not the case.
That was about a year ago. For the past 10 months, Taylor has been asking more questions and has been more open to new beliefs than he was when he first started coming to their church.
During a service in December, Taylor told church members he was curious about Jesus and wanted to know more. Later, during a baptism service, he confessed his belief that Jesus is God, and Emmett told Scott he believes Taylor is getting closer to opening his heart fully to Christ.
“Taylor is such a joy to be around,” Scott said. “When I first met him in the asylum facility in English class, he was polite but he had this hardness around him. Taylor is the opposite of hard now. He is very open and loves everyone! He is always joking with everyone – he is always trying to make someone laugh. It brings me great joy to see Taylor every Sunday.”
One Sunday during a message about forgiveness, Taylor stood up and said he can finally forgive the man who tried to kill him.
Taylor’s last application was rejected and he had only days left in the country. The congregation prayed for Taylor, and he was so moved by the prayers that he told Scott he decided to apply one more time. He recently had his last court appointment, and the whole Zagreb Church of the Nazarene continues to pray for the outcome of his asylum application.
“We [had] the privilege of watching God move in [Taylor’s] life — watching the Spirit nudge and speak to his heart,” Scott said. “It is beautiful, and it forces us all to trust a big God who is on the move.”
*Names changed for security purposes.