Urgent Need to Seize Huge Opportunity
Suppose the Lord found plenty of workers to go into the harvest – and then, before they could bring in anywhere near the full number of the redeemed, they left.
That’s the problem a native ministry leader is facing, just as a huge opportunity to bring the gospel to Muslims in Syria has opened up. Some refugees are beginning to trickle back as state forces have taken back most rebel-held territory, and the government has asked the native ministry to help distribute aid for returnees and others devastated by more than seven years of civil war.
“It is only God’s favor and blessing on us that we are the ones they are asking – they are unafraid of who we are and the message we bring,” the leader of the ministry said. “Right now, evangelical Christians have a good reputation, as people are beginning to see that Jesus brings a better message than ISIS.”
Government officials said the ministry teams are welcome to share their faith as they distribute bread and other aid. Native missionaries went door-to-door to deliver bread, CDs and other audio materials containing the message of the living Bread of life.
“I had a dream that someone would share with me about Jesus, and it was in a tent.”
The ministry also sets up prayer tents where war victims can privately share their problems, and workers pray for them and share the message of Christ. In one area where workers were asked to put up a prayer tent, the government sent an army unit alongside them for protection. A high-ranking officer was witness as they showed war-weary civilians the Jesus Film and shared the gospel with them.
The officer had some questions about what they were sharing.
“He pulled us aside and then whispered, ‘I had a dream that someone would share with me about Jesus, and it was in a tent,’” the ministry leader said. “He was led to the Lord, and he and his entire family were baptized recently. Unfortunately, we had to relocate him for his safety.”
On one recent outreach, native missionaries baptized 37 former Muslims.
“Most of these people heard about Jesus through our prayer tents,” the leader said.
At this unprecedented moment, however, he is finding team members are unable to continue long in the ministry due to lack of income.
“We have a huge issue at the moment with retaining our ministry staff,” he said. “As we are unable to pay salaries, we are in a vicious cycle of finding willing people, training them, having them serve for a bit, then having them reach a point where they are forced to find a job and leave their post. It is very difficult for us to keep our leaders for any length of time and this, of course, prevents us from being as effective as we could be in our outreaches.”
Native missionaries throughout the region find themselves in similar predicaments as opportunities outstrip support. Please consider a gift today to help native ministries in the Middle East cover the costs of evangelistic outreaches and discipleship.