We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. (John 9:4 ESV)
This was our verse for 2016. It has a feeling of urgency – John is essentially saying, Do not waste time.
We began the year with a sense that in the chaos and suffering of war and upheaval, God was providing his church with an unprecedented opportunity to bring the good news to Arab Muslims. We did not know how long this would last (we still don’t!) and wanted to make the most of it.
The Arab world is where Islam has its strongest roots, but in spite of this, there have been definite signs of an increasing openness to Christ. Many Muslims have become disillusioned with Islam while yearning for a relationship with God. This has drawn some of them to Jesus.
As we look back on 2016, we see clear evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in people’s lives. This evidence comes in the form of statistics and testimonies…
The infographic below (click to see full size) shows the levels of engagement with our ministry for the whole of 2016. (Note: We break levels of engagement into low, medium and high. The higher the engagement level, the more personal it is.)
Almost every figure is an increase on the preceding year. Particularly noteworthy is that in 2016 we got 292,000 post engagements on Facebook (likes, shares, comments) compared with 16,000 in 2015.
Another very exciting statistic is that 151 people made professions of faith in 2016. Comparing the figures month by month, we can see that there is an upwards trend towards the end of the year. This seems to be continuing in 2017.
Quite significantly, compared to 2015, twice as many people moved from medium engagement to high-level engagement in 2016. This means that more people are getting serious about the Christian faith. They’re not just on the fringes anymore!
Finally, we gained 503,000 new Facebook followers (almost double that of 2015), and we passed the 1 million mark.
During 2016, a Moroccan woman was baptised. She had been in contact with Khalil for two years, so this was really special. We also got to see pictures of a Yemeni believer being baptised in the country. We learned that the war and suffering taking place in Yemen is not detracting people from their pursuit of the truth. According to a worker with links to the country, at least one baptism a week takes place there!
Some great things happened among refugees… We ran a campaign in partnership with some workers on the ground and 300 refugees, mostly from Turkey and Iraq, completed web forms. A worker was able to follow up with some of these in person.
In Europe, a group of believers ran a Journey course among refugees. They were hugely encouraged to see several individuals make professions of faith. You can read their report here.
Towards the end of the year, we shared on Facebook the news of a young man from Daesh (ISIL) who got in touch with one of our responders by phone. He was hostile at first, but the loving and patient response he received from Khalil** soon softened his heart. The young man in question wants to be a Christian but is clearly in a dangerous situation.
Finally, you will recall that one of our responders was in touch with a suicidal man who gave God five hours to help him. He professed faith and continues to be supported.
Please join us in thanking God for all that he made possible in 2016. We look forward to finding out what he has in store in 2017 and through our Follow Me initiative.
*The Journey is a thirteen-part DVD series that takes participants through the Old Testament to discover the truth about the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. The programme is currently being widely and effectively used across the Middle East, Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.
**This is a pseudonym.