IF it takes a church to raise a Christian, what happens when there is no church?
This is the reality that many believers face in the Arab world, and particularly in the Arabian Peninsula, where believers are more scattered.
Discipling believers from a Muslim background in this context can be an uphill struggle. Not only is there no church, but many live in isolated and sometimes very traditional, tribal communities. In such communities, everybody knows everybody else’s business.
Meeting a believer in person can be very difficult and a significant security risk for the person – they simply cannot explain to their community and family who they are meeting and why they are meeting them. Now imagine meeting a person for a lengthy period of time, every week for six months. To say the least, the neighbours will wonder what on earth is going on.
It is especially in such situations that Arab World Media partners with our field colleagues in the effort to disciple new believers. Media is able to go where missionaries cannot go, including isolated situations, tribal communities, and even war zones. It is private and confidential.
There is, however, a big but. Discipling new believers online is very challenging. There is an Arab proverb that says One hand cannot clap. Media workers can put their whole hearts into discipling a new believer, but unless that person is willing and eager to learn, progress towards spiritual maturity will be sporadic at best.
Over the years, Arab World Media has tried various avenues for discipling people in a media environment. Our team has learnt a lot about what can and cannot be done realistically in online discipleship. They have discovered that there are at least three things that are essential for any online discipleship-related ministry to work…
- The person must be willing to learn and highly motivated to grow in their new faith.
- There must be a positive relationship of accountability in place with someone who will persevere in walking with the person from the time they come to faith – sharing with them both in the good times and the bad ones, helping them grow to maturity.
- Content is ‘king’! In other words, the online programme must be engaging, and it needs to challenge them to think through what they are learning and obey God.
Arab World Media has various online discipleship programmes. Each one is a labour of love for those believers who live in the most isolated and high-persecution environments. For their security, we are unable to share more, but we thank God for every breakthrough as we see his Spirit at work in their lives.
We value your prayers for this important online discipleship initiative. Please pray:
- That the Spirit of God will prepare the hearts of people to be willing to learn, and that he will give them a hunger to be rooted in his Word.
- That those who mentor new believers in their discovery of the Bible will have a heart to persevere, even when their effort seems futile.
- For inspiration for the Arab World Media team as we continue to develop creative ways of teaching the Word of God to new believers.
- For the physical protection of new believers at this very vulnerable time in their spiritual journey.
Recently, I met a lady who had come to faith in Egypt through our Arabic ministry website about four years ago. She was very inquisitive and eager to learn new things. After being discipled, she was so keen to learn more that she went on to do theological studies in a nearby country. Today she is enrolled to do a Master’s degree in Theology. What a joy to see how she has grown in her faith and knowledge, which will help her share the gospel with the people in her community.
Some believers grow quickly in their faith; others take longer. But together we rejoice in the power of the gospel to bring each new child of God to maturity in Christ.