An encouraging message from Arabic broadcasters in the Middle East….
Despite the mass exodus of many Christians, the church is far from empty in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and other parts of the Middle East. God has been very faithful. There are strong Christian believers remaining, and tremendous growth is taking place in the lives of new believers who were Muslims.
The presence of the church is vitally important. People are desperate and see very little hope, but the fact that there still is a church gives them encouragement and hope.
Historically, Middle Eastern Christians have made significant contributions for the good of society, especially in Syria and Iraq, going all the way back to the first century. Their contributions include working in the areas of health, literacy and the translation of the Bible into Arabic. They were among the first to introduce charitable works and work with missionaries and NGO workers. They are often recognised as the most honest when it comes to business and trade. In the future, Christians will be vital to maintain diversity and ensure sustainable peace and lasting stability in the Middle East.
We are in regular contact with our FM stations in Iraq and have talked with many people who have family in the Middle East. Some of our Middle Eastern broadcasters have shared testimonies with us (which they hear directly from listeners when visiting there). They are sharing exciting news of what God is doing in the Middle East. There are thousands upon thousands coming to Christ. May the Lord be praised and worshipped with great honour! He is worthy!
Source: Voice of the Martyrs Canada
- Praise our Lord God who uses strife and unrest to bring good by revealing Himself to many (Genesis 50:20).
- Commit to the Lord those who are working in the Middle East to share the Gospel including pastors, evangelists, aid workers and those involved in Christian broadcasting.
- Pray many Christians who have left will have the opportunity to return to their homes and help to rebuild.
Egyptian police have arrested four people in the wake of the bombing that killed dozens of Christians at Cairo’s Coptic Christian cathedral last month, the Interior Ministry said.
The death toll from the bombing at a chapel next to St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo has risen to 28, the Health Ministry added.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said following the attack that the perpetrator was a man named Mahmoud Shafik, who had worn a suicide vest, and that security forces were seeking two more people in conjunction with the attack.
The Interior Ministry said it had arrested one of the two, as well as three others who were part of the same cell. It added that one man was still on the run.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing but the Egyptian Government has sought to link the attack to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has condemned the attack and accused Sisi’s administration of failing to protect the church, Reuters reported.
President Sisi, who attended funerals at the cathedral for the victims, attended Christmas Eve Mass in the Coptic Cathedral for the third year. In 2016, he promised to rebuild all churches destroyed or damaged in the violence of August 2013. He also pledged 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($7200) towards construction of what will become the largest church (built at the same time as the largest new mosque) in a new political and administrative area planned for the edge of Cairo. He said the church is due to be inaugurated in 2018.
Source: World Watch Monitor
- Commit to the Lord those who continue to grieve over the loss of loved ones. Pray too for those who sustained serious injury.
- Thank the Lord for the government support of the Christian community. Pray the Lord will grant them His strength and protection.
- Pray for those who oppose the Lord and His church in Egypt and ask Him to frustrate their plans and remove the hatred from their hearts.
Christians in Aleppo are asking for prayers for their city, which has been destroyed by the civil war.
A VOM contact reports, “Currently, it is a ghost city, no life and complete destruction. Pray this city will have life again and the church will play a part in bringing Christ into the oppressed homes.” Pray that the young men who have been taken to fight in the war can return home to rebuild their families. Pray also for children in Syria who have not been able to go to school and who have suffered numerous losses, and that the church will be equipped to help these children recover. Christians have also asked for prayer that believers who once lived in Aleppo will begin to return.
Source: The Voice of the Martyrs USA
Tears misted Basma’s eyes as she touched my arms and looked at me. “Beautiful. You are beautiful.” It was the look a proud mother would give her daughter.
Basma had been a mother to me in many ways. She had taken me in as a newcomer to the neighbourhood, taught me how to cook soft, fluffy couscous, and introduced me to her friends.
Now Basma had dressed me in one of her black abayas and given me a matching headscarf to wear. We were going furniture shopping, and she explained I should dress in the long cloak and scarf to avoid wayward looks from the men who congregate in that part of town. Donning the abaya and scarf didn’t bother me; I wanted to dress appropriately. “It’s better to wear this. Safer,” Basma reminded me with a beaming smile. I smiled back, knowing much of Basma’s happiness came from the fact that I looked more Muslim now than before.
Basma wasn’t the first Muslim woman who tried to convert me, but she was definitely one of the most gracious and sensitive. Some women are pushy and rude; on a bad day, I chafe at their questions.
One Muslim woman grilled me, “Muslim? Are you Muslim?” As I stumbled around in my second language, sharing that I am a follower of Jesus the Messiah, she cut me off. “Islam is good. The final religion. You must enter Islam.” End of conversation. But Basma was much more respectful in “inviting” me to Islam. Asking me what I believed, she thoughtfully processed the information. Then she excitedly explained about her prophet, vouching for the miraculous experiences he had. She scribbled down Islamic Web sites for me to read. On one of my visits, Basma switched the television to a station broadcasting recitation of the Koran. She left the channel playing loudly for the entire visit!
Basma firmly believes Islam is the final revelation from God, and it is for everyone. So can I fault her for trying to win a convert for her religion?
But I felt like a project. If Muslims wrote missionary prayer letters, I might have made the front page. I can see it now: Anna is so close to becoming a Muslim. Yesterday, she even wore an abaya! Although Basma assures me that her friendship is not contingent upon me becoming Muslim, I still notice her discreet disappointment as I hold firmly to Jesus.
When approached by Muslims as a would-be convert, what should our response be?
William McElwee Miller’s answer is one of the best I have found. A Muslim traveler challenged Miller, “Why don’t you accept our prophet?” Miller responded, “… I have in Jesus Christ everything that I need for the journey of life: a road, light, bread and water. What else do I need?”1
Instead of becoming irritated by zealous Muslims, I am slowly learning to expect their challenges (and yes, even their pushy questions) and use them as an opportunity to express my complete satisfaction in Christ. I have Jesus. What else do I need?
Your turn: What is your response to someone trying to convert you? Offense? Indignation? Compassion?
1. Source: “Tales of Persia” p. 38 by William McElwee Miller
When it comes to sharing the Gospel in hostile and restricted nations, front line workers must use wisdom and creativity. In Laos, travelling evangelists distribute VOM-provided radios to people in remote villages so they can listen to Christian broadcasts from a neighbouring country — and the villagers respond.
“Since we have received 2,000 radios, there are more people writing letters to us, especially from those we have never known before,” a VOM partner reported. “And there are more phone calls about people accepting Jesus through listening to the programs.”
In a single three-month period last year, 253 people professed faith in Christ. During the same period, front line workers baptised about 180 people and established three new house churches among the Khmu people. Virtually no spiritual leadership is available to these new believers, so they rely on the weekly radio program and visits from front line workers for encouragement and spiritual food. Visiting evangelists baptise new converts, explain difficult spiritual concepts and teach God’s Word.
In communist Laos, new believers face harsh persecution.
Front line workers are often the first to respond when believers are persecuted.
- Pray for wisdom, clarity and understanding for Christians preparing radio broadcasts for people from differing languages and cultural backgrounds
- Ask God to prepare more mature Christians who will commit to travel and disciple new believers in remote areas
- Pray for front line workers to have energy, faithfulness and strength as they depend on God in their demanding roles
- Pray for the provision of Bibles and clear, sound teaching so that converts can quickly become established and grounded in their faith