Gospel in the Middle East

Gospel in the Middle East

Daniel Trusiewicz - November 27, 2009

Several indigenous community workers are actively involved in this transformational ministry.

The Baptist ministry in Lebanon was started in 1895 by a photographer who planted the first Baptist congregation in Beirut. During the first fifty years (i.e. between 1895 and 1945) there were only 3 Baptist churches in Lebanon. From 1945 to 1995 the number of churches grew to 24.

Today, more than 100 years later, the Baptist ministry continues in this country and there are now 18 Baptist congregations with a total membership of about 1000. Rev. Dr. Samuel Karrat is currently the President of the Lebanese Baptist Convention and Nabil Costa serves as the Executive Director of the Lebanese Baptist Society whose vision is to “see a growing body of committed and highly trained Arab leaders, mobilized to serve God and to positively impact the Middle East and North Africa”.

Baptists in Lebanon are also known for establishing several Christian schools: the Beirut Baptist School (primary and secondary schools) and the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary – both have continued to effectively provide their services until today.

ABTS is the only Baptist theological school in the Middle East training people in the church to work as indigenous community leaders. Many Baptist churches have been praying for a major revival in this part of the world, i.e. the growth of the church in Lebanon and neighboring countries where the Arabic language is spoken (Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia and Sudan). There is indeed good prospect with new generation of leaders getting involved in this important ministry.

The Baptist ministry in Syria began in the 1950s when Baptist churches in Houran, Homs and Damascus were planted. Today there are 10 Baptist congregations in Syria assembling altogether about 500 members. The leader of the Syrian Baptists is Rev. Daas Haddad.

There are no Baptist institutions in Syria but new churches are being planted. The Baptist Convention of Lebanon is significantly helping church plants in Syria. Syrian pastors are being supported from Lebanese churches and a number of Syrian theological students are being educated at ABTS.

Syria is the largest country in the region, being populated by about 17 mln. The majority of them are Muslims and the second largest religion is Orthodox. There is also a Kurdish minority and at least 3 mln Bedouins (homeless).

We can learn a lot from the below quoted reports of these active community workers (italics).

One community worker from Lebanon wrote in his report:

Ever since we started the ministry of home group in 2007, I particularly concentrated on 2 families. We usually take parts of the Bible, mainly the parables of the Lord and discuss them. I had also opportunity to minister to one more family from the neighborhood. We’ve been meeting once or even twice a week. My plan is to continue working in order to reach more families for Christ. I plan to go visiting more people and encouraging them to know the Lord.
We’re planning an outreach next month. We want to invite several families and we’ll hold a wider meeting followed by informal fellowship. We were also ministering to some Syrians in our neighborhood and there was an Iranian young man whom I got to know. My plan is to keep holding meetings at my house and do more outreach in future.

Another community worker from Lebanon shared:

During this time we felt the mighty hand of God leading the Ministry. Before last Christmas we distributed gifts to the blind children… During Christmas, the director of a School for the Blind permitted me to distribute gifts to the children; there were 43 children present and I explained to them the real meaning of Christmas.

Following this, we started meeting as a small group. After a couple of meetings, we discovered that we all had real need to meet. Other friends shared with me that they also wanted to join us. The group eventually grew to about 30 persons and we were very excited worshiping God together.

One man, 23 years old, an orphan, had no friends and felt very lonely. He had lived in sin which he confessed to me. Since then I decided to help him spiritually. We met regularly and talked many times about Jesus. He is learning how to forgive and love even those who had hurt him. Every week I spend with him a good deal of time and can see how his life is changing

This is very good example how the word of God has the transforming power!

One indigenous worker witnessed to an un-reached group of people in Syria for two years. He used to have merchant contacts with them for several years, for example he purchased their wool and other items. He came to know the Lord about 5 years ago and began sharing the Gospel – that Jesus is God – with his friends and acquaintances. Some listened to him, others opposed and still others stayed indifferent. A couple of years ago he felt a special call to work among them.

Missionary says that it took several months for him to win their trust. Now he spends a lot of time with them sharing the Gospel. One visit usually lasts for a couple of days. During the two years he distributed hundreds of Bibles in their community.

Another community worker from Syria lives in a town where there is no evangelical church. The ministry has grown and there are now regular Bible study meetings every Thursday attended by 15-20 people, He wrote in his report:

Recently, one of our people was fired from his job only because of his faith and that he attended our group. He has a family that consists of three kids, so we started fasting and praying that the Lord would provide for them. I prayed that the Lord would encourage us and reveal to us and other people a solution. Several church members including me visited him one night and we prayed together. The next day he was able to return to his job. We accepted this as God’s answer to our prayers.

We discovered opportunity to share the Gospel through available to us websites. We were amazed when discovered that the number of readers reached 5000, some of whom corresponded with us. Another website revealed that the page has reached a new record of readers due to our participation and the spiritual topics we contributed. All this encouraged us to continue and now it has become part of our ministry.

As a result, seven people have come to the Lord, and we had our first baptism service that included five people. Unfortunately, two families, two young men, and two young women left the ministry due to the pressure exerted on them by their families and relatives. They indicated that though they were convinced we had the right beliefs and principles, they were unable to put up with people’s harmful talk and the pressure on them. We decided to show them love and continue to pray for them and encourage them from the Word. Under the circumstances, we are unable to visit them, yet we continue to invite them to visit the mother church on Sundays as well as our summer camps.

Prayer requests
Community workers have discovered that prayer has great power. They expect from the readers of this newsletter that the chain of international prayer can encourage those who share the Gospel in the Middle East.

Pray for the community workers that they can be wise in using available to them opportunities and strength to overcome obstacles in their ministry.
Pray for the families that they will be ready to open their houses for the Gospel meetings.
Pray for the needs of blind people both physically and spiritually, special materials for the blind people, like audio equipments to listen to the Bible.

In Christ,
Daniel Trusiewicz
EBF Mission Coordinator

To help planting reproducing churches!

To help growing healthy churches!

For the glory of God!