At first glance, Gloria Furman’s life seems quite different from our own daily routines in small-town North Carolina. She spends her days raising four children in Dubai, a city of more than 2.7 million on the Persian Gulf, where her neighbors come from all over the world.
In spite of the differences, she says, we share the most fundamental things in common: “my hopes and fears all find their resolution in Jesus Christ.”
A writer, speaker and one of our international ministry partners, Gloria will discuss our shared hope in Christ as she teaches at the Exodus Women’s Conference on April 1. She will focus on Ephesians, which is the subject of her newest book, “Alive in Him.”
For nearly 10 years, Gloria and her family have been living and working in the Middle East, where in 2010 she and her husband Dave planted Redeemer Dubai. Since then, Exodus has been supporting them as a missions partner. In advance of her visit, she shared a little bit about her life in Dubai, what she hopes we will take away from the conference, and how we can pray for her and her family:
1. Can you tell us about your daily life as a mom and ministry wife? Is it similar in any ways to what we might be doing in the U.S.? What are the major differences?
I love this question, but I really have to use my imagination here. My oldest was a baby when we moved to the Arabian Peninsula, so I don’t have experiential knowledge of what it is like to raise kids in the States. I can say that I absolutely love raising my children in this environment, with the exception of missing my mom and wishing the cost of living here was cheaper. So, I would imagine that my daily life as a mom looks quite similar to yours in North Carolina. Every morning my four kids wake up hungry, need help getting their acts together before they go to school, and are a cyclone of energy and debriefing when I come get them in the afternoon. Evenings are a mix of homework and playing and the “what’s for dinner” question. My hopes and fears as a mom all find their resolution in Jesus Christ, so that’s the same, for sure! The major difference, of course, is the context. Dubai is a global city in the Middle East. Right before the kids wake up hungry in the mornings I can hear the call to prayer from a place of worship nearby. We say hi to our next door neighbors from Ireland and Saudi Arabia as we walk to the kids’ international school. When I conduct a ladies’ Bible study in my living room on Monday mornings, we have multiple translations of the Scripture among us—Spanish, Amharic, and Portuguese.
2. What led you to write “Alive in Him”? Why study Ephesians, specifically?
It all started when I read some publications on Ephesians 1:8-10, and over two years later, I was still submerged in Paul’s letter. Every word is enchanting. All of that reading turned into listening to Ephesians on CD on my commutes to school, memorizing, and writing about Ephesians.
3. Why should we in this conference study Ephesians rather than focusing on themes that are common in books and studies for Christian women, such as motherhood, self-esteem, etc.?
It’s funny the way the Lord does this, but I find that when I study whole books, I see all of the little topics come together into the big picture and they make far more sense in context than they do by themselves. Focusing on themes is really fun to do when you go through the whole Bible and read about it in context.
4. The subtitle of your book is “How Being Embraced by the Love of Christ Changes Everything.” Was this something you experienced as you studied Ephesians?
Yes! And it’s the gift that keeps on giving! Every day I am seeing more and more how the love of Christ changes everything.
5. How can we pray for you as you prepare to speak to us on April 1, and how can we pray for you and your family in your daily lives and as you minister at Redeemer Dubai?
Thank you for praying for us! Pray that God would provide the grace we need for traveling during these coming days. It isn’t easy for us to get around for various reasons (we have four kids and Dave has a physical disability in his arms), and oftentimes traveling complicates things. Please pray that God would give our kids grace, too. Though they are all excited about visiting America, they all experience culture shock differently—and need us to help them process differently. (*Side note: Our oldest daughter is turning 10 while we are still traveling on April 5th!*) For our daily lives as we minister in Dubai, please pray that we would grow in our love for Jesus and personal holiness. We see how our ministry to others overflows out of our walk with God, and we appreciate all the prayers we can get in this regard.