A few weeks ago we had a privilege of meeting Ayoub, a believer from a Muslim background (BMB) and he shared his inspirational story with us. He grew up in North Africa in a Muslim family and during his teenage years he started to ask questions about the Quran and Islam. These questions went unanswered and the local Imam even forbade him from asking any more. By the time he turned 16 he no longer believed that Quran was a book from God and he spent 10 months as an atheist.Read More
Our prayer this week is for our On Bended Knee project, which is specifically aimed at believers from a Muslim background (BMB). This project is for BMB’s to create poetry, prose and prayers in their own language to be able to encourage their fellow believers in the Gulf, as well as spread Gods word and love throughout the region.Read More
Believers from a Muslim background (BMB) face many challenges. When they make a decision to follow Jesus, their families are expected to kill them, or at the very least completely reject them and no longer see them as part of their family. If that wasn’t enough, when they come to know the truth of God, they want to share the Gospel message with those around them. They often do this unwisely and can end up dead or imprisoned.Read More
Our Project, Life in the Desert, uses a 3D animated children’s series to help traumatised children across the Middle East to find healing and restoration. Alongside a curriculum, this project helped over 1,800 children across refugee camps and communities last year.Read More
Our prayer for this week will be a prayer of thanksgiving. Last week, it was announced that Asia Bibi’s acquittal would be upheld in the Pakistani courts, ensuring that she would not be sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy.Read More
Last week saw the publishing of the World Watch List- a list compiled by our friends over at Open Doors. It was presented at the Houses of Parliament where Home Secretary Jeremy Hunt spoke about religious persecution. The report looks at Christian persecution globally to discover what the global trends are and which countries see the most persecution.Read More
One of the first main news stories of 2019 has been about an 18-year-old Saudi woman who renounced her religion and has had to flee her country and family to seek refuge in Australia. Although women’s rights are a global issue, it is especially a problem within the Middle East. This story has brought home the real dangers that women in the Middle East are in just for asking for basic human rights – freedom of travel and freedom of religion.Read More
Reaching people where they are
There's a reason we use online media to reach the people of the Middle East. The MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region has some of the highest internet usage rates in the world, with 4 in 10 MENA nationals watching online videos daily!
We found a very useful infographic (keep scrolling!) which gives a great overview of online video consumption in the region. We hope it inspires you that our online media really can make a difference - it's truly reaching people where they are.
Just some of our current online video content includes:
- Arabian Dawn - This is our video testimony series by Gulf believers from a Muslim background. These testimonies have been viewed millions of times in the region and have sparked many conversations.
- Future Leaders videos - Trainees on our Future Leaders course created short films on current topics such as sexual harassment and loving your neighbour. These have been shared on Facebook and have now been viewed tens of thousands of times.
- Nisa'a women's project - We create online video content for our highly popular Nisa'a women's website, creating shareable content to teach women about their equality and worth. The Nisa'a website has around 60,000 monthly views and over 360,000 likes on Facebook!
As you read through the infographic below, here are some ways you can pray for the Middle East:
- Thank God for the development of the Internet! Whilst it can be used for great harm, especially by extremist groups such as ISIS, it can also be used for great good - by giving us the unique opportunity to communicate to people who may otherwise be unreachable. It also enables people to ask questions and find online communities in relative anonymity, which has great potential for those who may otherwise never meet a Christian. Thank God that people are coming to him through online media.
- Thank God that organisations like Middle East Media are making the most of high internet usage in the region to reach straight into people's homes and hearts in a relevant and accessible way. Pray that we would be able to keep up with technological developments to reach as many people as possible.
- Pray for internet users in the region, that whilst online they would come across Christian media like ours and that it would start them on a journey of questioning and seeking.
- Pray that our filmmaking staff would be given sustained creativity to create videos which truly inspire people and bring about change in society.
Infographic by- GO Gulf Web Design Abu Dhabi
Becoming a believer in the Gulf often carries a huge price tag... and yet, people continue to come to Christ! Please join us in praying for these bold believers as they risk everything - their families, jobs, homes, and even their lives - for Jesus.
Many believers from a Muslim background are involved in our On Bended Knee project - a video series of prayers, poems and prose by and for the people of the Gulf. Each one of these believers has a powerful story to tell.
One such new believer is Mark (not his real name), an elderly gentleman in his 70s. He wanted to wear a cross necklace to display his newfound faith, but couldn't find a cross big enough... so he went to the only church in his city, bought a cross keyring, and now wears it proudly around his neck every day! Despite the risks of being openly Christian in a Muslim society, he sits in his local cafe wearing his cross necklace and and waits for people to strike up conversations with him about it.
Pray for new believers in the Gulf:
- Thank God that people are coming to faith across the Arabian Peninsula and that they are taking huge risks to do so.
- Please pray for the new believers we are in contact with, most of whom have had to make huge sacrifices like fleeing their homes and families. Pray that God would be close to them and strengthen them.
- Thank God for the boldness of believers like Mark, and for the impact they are having on those around them.
- Please pray for the On Bended Knee video project. We have filmed several episodes now, including a powerful poem in the Omani Arabic dialect. Poetry is an important part of Arab culture, so we hope these videos will show that becoming a Christian doesn't mean a loss of cultural identity (a common misconception).
- Pray for the families of these new believers, who are often the main source of persecution. Please pray that they too would come to Jesus.
You can read more about what it's like to follow Jesus in the Gulf in the latest issue of Prayer & Praise, out now. This also includes an update on Basma, our Gulf producer who had to flee her family after she became a Christian. Read more >
For an alternative perspective on what it's like to follow Jesus in the Gulf, you may enjoy this episode from our I Believe, But... series.
In this episode, a Gulf believer from a Muslim background struggles with pride, because believers from a Christian background make him feel like he is better than them for the sacrifice he has made and the risk he has taken!
Watch as our hosts explain the meaning of grace, and how it counteracts pride: "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast." - Ephesians 2:9
Please join us in urgently praying for Egypt and its Christian community following two attacks on Coptic churches on Palm Sunday yesterday.
At least 27 people were killed and many more wounded in an explosion inside a church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta. A further 16 people were killed outside a church in Alexandria by a suicide bomber, including police officers who stopped the bomber from entering the church. ISIS have claimed responsibility for the bombings.
Both churches were packed full of worshippers for Palm Sunday. These attacks were the latest in a worrying rise in violence against the Coptic Christians of Egypt, including a bombing at the Coptic Cathedral in December, which was the deadliest attack on Egypt's Christian minority for many years.
The Prince of Peace
The story of Palm Sunday is one of Jesus as the Prince of Peace, riding peacefully into Jerusalem despite his full knowledge of the suffering He is about to face. As you pray for Egypt, please pray that Jesus the Prince of Peace would reign over the whole of Egypt and every Egyptian, to bring unity, healing and mercy in the face of suffering.
Here are some more ways Egyptian Christians have asked us to pray, via Middle East Concern:
- For God's comfort for those who lost loved ones and for full recovery of the injured
- For comfort and encouragement for the wider Christian community and for God's protection over his church in Egypt and over other targets of these kinds of attacks
- That the perpetrators of these violent attacks and the instigators behind them will be found and brought to justice
Thank you so much for your prayers for this situation, and your ongoing intercession for the Middle East and its people.