Turning Challenges into Opportunities in
the Middle East & North Asia
Here are just a few news bites pointing to the gravity of the situation:
If you have followed any news reports lately you would agree with me that few issues are as sensitive as the position of Christians in the Middle East. Across this region, there is severe
persecution or even death for all believers, particularly those from a Muslim background, who convert to Christianity.
- Since the fall of Saddam’s regime thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled the country fearful of hostile encounters with Islamists.
- Only a few weeks ago, a DPM associate in Egypt, who is the main catalyst for reaching out to Muslims in his city, was attacked and beaten in the street. He was subsequently threatened by the State security police to stop his Christian activity or risk the consequences.
- In Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, churches are banned, and foreign workers who are caught holding secret Christian services are jailed, flogged and deported.
- In March 2006 the Algerian government passed a law that punishes anyone who is deemed to ‘shake the faith’ of a Muslim, with up to five years in prison, and making it illegal for anyone to print, store or handle Christian books or media. A few weeks ago a national newspaper reported with outrage the fact that a student was discovered with a copy of Foundations for Christian Living along with his New Testament at a University Campus.
Such marginalisation, suffering and persecution represent one aspect of life in these troubled lands. Yet, when I talk to Christians from this region I am enthused by their relentless passion for sharing the Gospel and by their hunger for solid spiritual food.That’s why I want to tell you today about two challenges we are facing in the Middle East & North Africa and to ask for your help in turning them into wonderful opportunities:
- One far-reaching challenge is to raise £62,000 for printing 10,000 copies each of five new Arabic titles and the reprinting of a further 58,000 books between now and the end of 2006, making a total of 108,000 new books. The new titles include books like: Husbands and Fathers, Marriage Covenant and Faith to Live By.
- Another, very specific challenge is to raise £30,000 for translating, dubbing and producing satellite TV programmes, CDs, videos and DVDs for reaching out to thousands of Arab Christians and Muslim seekers.
But, before I ask for your support I want to share with you some of the amazing things God has accomplished through DPM across this region. So please read on and be encouraged by knowing that your prayers and financial gifts have made a real difference.
Raising and nurturing new disciples in Egypt
One moving example of how God is using our DPM resources to strengthen new believers in Egypt is the testimony of Sarah and Basem (not their real names).
Sarah is the mother of 2 ‘natural’ children, but she is the spiritual mother to many more. She and her husband, have a wonderful ministry of opening up their home and lives, to new converts from a Muslim background. In small groups, or a one on one basis, they lovingly help new believers to take their first steps in the Christian faith. And the main tool they use to nurture them is the Self Study Bible Course
The first time I visited Sarah and Basem, I went laden with carrier bags containing a fresh supply of DPM books. While I was there a young lady wearing the hijab (Muslim headscarf), arrived to meet with Sarah and after a while both of them proceeded to use the Self Study Bible Course
in Arabic for their Bible study session.
Later I found out that this young girl had come to Christ three months before and continued to wear the hijab not to offend her family and friends. Previous to her conversion she belonged to a fundamentalist Muslim group, who sought to “evangelise” nominal Christians by luring them into dating Muslim girls and eventually converting them to Islam. The reward for success was enhanced standing in the community, a financial bonus, and a quick divorce if marriage had been necessary to secure the conversion. How wonderful that God supernaturally intervened in this girl’s life!
During the last year alone, despite great personal risk, Sarah and Basem have discipled over 30 people in their home. They are just one example of how God is at work in the Middle East through committed believers who need our prayers and support to continue their valuable ministries.
An amazing breakthrough for DPM in Syria
A success story we would like to see repeated in other countries of this region is the recent breakthrough we experienced in Syria. For the first time, in 2005 we obtained permission to import DPM books into Syria. This process involved us nervously sending several copies of our books to the Ministry of Information in Damascus, so you can imagine our delight when when we received the official approval!
While previously DPM materials could only be smuggled in small quantities, last year an initial shipment of 7,000 DPM books and teaching videos was sent to Syria. These resources were distributed to church leadersand lay Christians eagerly waiting for them.
A flood of testimonies from church leaders have come in to our office in Egypt sharing with us how valuable the books have been in teaching their people. One leader of a charismatic network, with churches in Damascus and other cities, said the books and videos were a tremendous blessing for their congregations.
Encouraged by this, our specific aim, by the end of 2006 is to make new DPM titles available to more churches in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Libya and elsewhere.
Seizing opportunities for equipping Christians in Algeria
Algeria currently has the fastest growing church in the Muslim world. Since 1996 by a powerful move of God’s Spirit thousands of people have turned to Christ, especially among the Kabyle people. Within a decade hundreds of churches have sprung up in villages and towns and they are growing fast. One church grew more than 800% in a year!
Today there are nearly 50,000 Christians in Algeria many of whom need to be taught foundations of God’s Word. This is where our joint contribution through DPM comes in. Thanks to the generosity of friends like you in 2005, we responded to requests from Algerian leaders for much needed discipleship materials by providing 2,000 copies of the Self Study Bible Course
, 2,000 of Foundations for Christian Living
and 2,000 of Atonement.
The good news is that DPM resources have proved to be valuable treasures to Algerian pastors and Bible college students who consider Derek Prince’s books to be the best quality Christian teaching they have ever received. However, these books are like a drop in the ocean as churches continue to grow and new leaders’ needs for sound Bible knowledge become more evident. The strict new laws that the Algerian government passed in March, begin to be imposed at the end of August 2006. So in the next couple of months we have a short window of opportunity to resource church leaders and congregations, and assist them to prepare for the difficult times that lie ahead. They need our help!
Using TV and Internet to make God’s Word accessible to thousands of Christians and Muslim seekers
We have just received some good news from ourDPM office in Egypt. The redesign of our Arabic website is almost complete. This website offers free DPM resources to anyone who might not be able to access our materials in other ways. It is also an outreach tool for sharing God’s Word with many who are asking: ‘How do I become a Christian?’ or ‘How can I learn more about God?’
Another exciting development is that we are talking with representatives of different Christian TV stations about the possibility of broadcasting Derek’s teaching via satellite TV potentially taking the Good News of Christ to over 300 million Arabs.
Recently, I met with the Director of one of these channels based in the Middle East, who asked us to urgently supply them with Derek Prince Bible teaching, professionally dubbed in Arabic. According to statistics gathered by this Channel, by the end of 2006 about 85% of new Arab Christians would be less than one year old in the Lord. And it is vital that these baby believers are nurtured in their new found faith.
That is why we are developing new ways of providing Bible teaching to Christians in the Middle East by using TV, Internet and other media channels. TV programmes will direct people to our Arabic website, so they can access our full range of Bible teaching resources or send an email in response to the teaching. We will also have a PO Box to receive and respond to written correspondence and we will direct those who want to go deeper with the Bible to online study courses.
An invitation to turn challenges into opportunities for mission and discipleship in the Middle East & North Africa
As I mentioned earlier in this letter our first challenge is to raise £62,000 for printing and distributing 108,000 new DPM books in the Middle East & North Africa. And the second challengeis to raise an additional £30,000 for translating, dubbing and producing TV programmes, DVDs and videos for making God’s Word accessible to thousands of Arab believers and Muslim seekers.
Will you join forces with us to turn this challenge into an opportunity and to strengthen the church in Middle East & North Africa with a gift of £30? – This suggested donation will be used for the production and distribution of forty five books. This means that a whole community of believers will receive strength and encouragement from God’s Word and minister to those around them.
Or, maybe you could send £100 or even £500? - For £100 we can print 2,500 copies of The Divine Exchange
, which is being powerfully used as an outreach tool. And for £500 we can get a one hour programme professionally translated and dubbed in Arabic and ready to broadcast through Christian TV or produced in DVD or video format.
Your gift and prayers will mean so much to church leaders and believers in Algeria, Egypt, Syria and elsewhere who need plenty of support and encouragement right now.
Furthermore, your generosity will enable Christians in the Middle East who are struggling with loneliness or fear of persecution to experience God’s love and know that they have the prayers and support of the wider Christian family.
I sincerely hope you will play your part in strengthening and equipping God’s church in the Middle East & North Africa through your gifts and prayer.PS: Over the last 2 years, thanks to the generosity of supporters like you, we have printed and distributed over 250,000 DPM books in this region, impacting the lives of many. Now God is calling us to respond to new challenges. Thanks in advance for turning challenges into opportunities.