Marianne has been a member of our communications team since 2010, but in just a few weeks she’ll be moving on to new things. Here she shares five stories and events that have stood out in her nearly nine years of involvement with Arab World Media…
1. The Arab Spring
The Arab Spring (or Uprising, or Revolt) began at the end of 2010, soon after I took up my role with Arab World Media. By early 2011, it had begun to dominate the news headlines, and I was gripped, watching with incredulity as protests spread from one country to another.
The initial weeks and months of the Arab Spring were both exciting and distressing. There was hope for real change, but there was also shock at how quickly things were unfolding – and then horror to see the despicable things governments and groups were doing to ordinary people, who simply wanted a voice and the chance to build a better life.
Even today, we’re still feeling the impact of those events at Arab World Media. Without doubt, many individuals have come to faith because of what happened in the region. The emergence of ISIS, which arose from the chaos of Syria’s civil war, has caused many Muslims to reject Islam and go on a spiritual journey. They are often attracted to Christianity because they see it as a peaceful religion.
Our responders regularly speak and sharewith people who have been displaced by war in their country. The next story is an example of this…
2. Lailah’s journey
In 2012, we heard about Lailah, a Libyan wife and mother from a Muslim background. When civil war broke out in Libya, Lailah and her family moved to neighbouring Tunisia. Lailah had already quietly rejected Islam, but leaving her home country gave her the freedom to explore Christianity. Her husband appeared to be supportive, even joining her in meeting up with a believer. She seemed really close to giving her life to Christ, and was talking about how she was going to tell others about Jesus, but then something happened and contact was lost.
I found this story particularly exciting as, until this point, Libya had been a closed country. We’d hardly had any Libyan contacts and the few we had were men. Now there was a woman seeking out the truth, with her husband and children involved.
I always hoped that Lailah would get in touch again and we’d know for sure that she gave her life to Christ. I still think of her now and then, and hope and pray that she did come to know her Saviour better.
You can read the original story here.
3. Arabian Dawn
In the same year came the launch of Arabian Dawn, in partnership with Middle East Media. This is a series of video testimonies from national believers of the Gulf*, a more conservative part of the Arab world with very few believers.
Arabian Dawn was produced to show Gulfi seekers that it’s possible to be a Christian in this part of the world. Since its launch, thousands of Muslims have watched the videos and many have responded by getting in touch with our team.
You can view the Arabian Dawn series (with English subtitles) on our Vimeo page.
*The Arabian Gulf countries are: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and UAE.
4. Women at risk
In 2015, our theme for the year was Love Never Fails, taken from 1 Corinthians 13:8. Our aim was to reach out to victims of war, women at risk and persecuted communities, as well as the usual seekers.
‘Women at risk’ meant those who had been raped, abused, traumatised, bereaved and more. Our ministry team produced a series of self-help modules, each of which included a short video presented by a female Arab national.
Over the past four years, thousands of women (and many men) have been helped by these modules as well as our supportive response team. Later on, the Discover Yourself app was developed, so people could access the content on their phones.
The response we had to this project confirmed just how lacking the support is for women in the Arab world. It’s great that we have been able to produce something that helps people in a tangible way. Many individuals have been loved and encouraged in Christ’s name, and some have even come to faith. It’s my prayer that more will give their lives to Christ in years to come.
This last one’s a bit more personal, because I took the lead in this project. For those who are new to our ministry, Breakthrough was a prayer initiative that ran from 2014 to 2018.
Over this period, we produced 60 prayer guides for 20 nations (obviously more than once for each country). Our desire was to see God break specific spiritual and social strongholds over each nation.
Many of you joined us in prayer and it was great to learn and share about some of the different issues faced by the peoples of this region.
It’s my firm belief that our prayers over this period made a difference to people’s lives. God already had plans for the Arab world and we were simply being obedient, but one of the most wonderful things I’ve seen is the undeniable growth in people responding to the message of the gospel.
This year, we replaced Breakthrough with In This City, another initiative I’m proud to have been a part of. I hope that you, like me, have enjoyed getting better acquainted with the Arab world.
A great journey
It has been an absolute privilege to share with you what God has been doing in the lives of Arab world Muslims. I leave with a heart full of love for this part of the world, and I will be joining you in following the ministry of Arab World Media.
God is truly transforming the lives of Muslims, and media is playing a vital role in this; reaching more people with a message that resonates and connecting them with someone who can help them understand things more clearly.
Whether you’re new or whether you’ve been with us for the long haul, thank you for taking the time to read our news and pray for the work. It’s been a great journey for me. I know God has much more in store and I look forward to finding out just what he’ll do next.