April to June 2020
Connected in quarantine
Crises have a strange way of refocusing our core values. As the coronavirus spread from nation to nation, businesses closed, people went into self-isolation, and the whole world seemed to come to a standstill. Empty streets and closed shops appeared to set the tone for weeks of confinement and loneliness. But what we have seen is a surge in online activity as people seek to connect in quarantine, looking for answers to life’s bigger questions. This has been incredibly apparent in the Arab world.
Though it has been an incredibly challenging season for many, the Lord has truly blessed us with a unique opportunity. Our ministry has been utilising the internet for many years — employing WhatsApp to chat with Arab seekers, sharing videos on social media, and advertising the gospel on Google. Today, with more people online than ever before, the internet is an essential form of communication and critical tool in sharing Jesus to the Muslim world.
Even though lockdown has kept people physically apart, Arabs are reaching out to connect with his Church in quarantine. Read on to see how the internet has played a significant part in seekers meeting Jesus in the last three months…
The statistics: April to June 2020
Four times a year, we review the results of our online efforts. Have a look at the encouraging results below.
Lockdown provided the perfect opportunity for our ministry team to go live on Facebook for the first time ever! Hosting sessions such as ‘Is coronavirus a sign of the end of the world?’ and ‘Coronavirus: truth and rumours’ has allowed Arabs to engage with other seekers and ask faith-related questions in a real-time forum. This has meant our Facebook engagements have soared this quarter, from 14k to 55k!
More engagement on social media means more people have been encouraged to explore further. We’ve seen a lot more clicks on our ads which have led people to our ministry website. We’re praising God that 6,246 downloads of the Bible were made from our ministry website! People have obviously been reading and have questions, because we saw an increase in webform submissions (where people ask more about faith or want to speak to someone), and we now have 4,753 active contacts!
The people behind the stats
Influencing his community
Farid* is a Syrian refugee. He first reached out to us in January asking for discipleship and spiritual follow-up. He’s been following the Lord for seven years, but wanted to chat to our team about some spiritual questions to deepen his faith. Since then, one of our responders has kept in touch with Farid. They’ve been discussing biblical concepts, praying together, and enjoying online fellowship together.
Farid has become a man of spiritual influence in his community. While in quarantine, Farid has been participating in Bible studies via WhatsApp with our local follow-up team. Once lockdown lifted, he was able to host his first face-to-face Bible study with friends. Farid’s own brother, a very religious man, decided to attend!
My life might be in danger
Amid war, famine, and hardship, you can imagine why a person in Yemen would be asking big life questions… What is all this about? Why is there so much fighting? Where is God?
Abdul* is searching for true peace. He wants to break the cycle of anxiety and psychological distress he’s experiencing due to the situation in Yemen.
‘I’d like to know more about the Bible and would be happy to speak to any local believers here. But I am worried about what will happen to me if I believe in Christ… My life might be in danger.’
My family don’t know I’m a Christian
‘I’m struggling. Covid-19 was finally recognised as a real problem in Egypt, so I’ve returned to my family’s village to self-isolate. But, as you know, they don’t know I’m a Christian. I’m terrified about what they’ll say or do if they find out. It’s easier when I’m at university as I can pray or read the Bible when I’m alone. But while I’m home, I can’t grow in my faith. I feel trapped, but I cannot tell them. I need to keep it secret.’
You may remember Aqib* from our Ramadan prayer guide. He’s a 22-year-old engineering student. He became a Christian online and prayed to receive salvation with one of our responders a couple of years ago. He’s been in constant contact since then, studying the New Testament and following devotional courses on our discipleship app. He’s grown a lot in his faith, but now feels stifled at home. The above message, sent at the end of April, is the last word we’ve had from Aqib. We’re concerned for him.
The Holy Spirit is at work in me
My father’s death deeply affected me. Over the past eight years, it has caused me a great deal of suffering. I pleaded with God to take away my anguish but he never did. I began wondering if I was speaking to the right God.
One night, after I had spent hours crying, I fell into a deep sleep. I dreamt I was in a church, sat in a corner. As I thought, ‘What on earth am I doing in a church?’, I caught sight of my friend sitting at the front. She was surprised to see me there, but rushed over to me, took my hand, and pulled me back to her seat. We heard a man preaching about Jesus.
As soon as I woke up, I called that same friend and told her about my dream. She was ecstatic, and invited me to study the Bible with her. That’s how my real spiritual journey began. I am so grateful to my friends who helped me in my pursuit of the truth. They helped me get baptised, too.
It’s been five years that I’ve followed the Lord, and I have such peace in my heart. He’s showing me new things in the Bible each day. Truly, the Holy Spirit is at work in me.
Leila* recently reached out to our team asking for further Bible study support and discipleship materials. She’s grappling with parallels between the Old and New Testament at the moment. We believe she’s going to play a mighty role in leading others to the Lord.
Some ways to pray
As you’ve read in this update, we have a few contacts in difficult situations. Aqib is fearful that his family may find out that he’s a Christian, Abdul is considering the cost of following Christ in a warzone, and Farid is boldly sharing his faith in his community even though it leaves him in a vulnerable position as a refugee. We have hundreds of contacts with similar plights, and there are thousands more new believers and seekers across the region facing these kinds of challenges. I’d ask you to pray for spiritual protection over anyone pursuing Jesus in the Arab world. For some, it might mean losing friends through discrimination. For others, it could mean losing their lives.
I’d ask you to also pray over the Facebook Live sessions and new innovative opportunities to reach Arabs with the gospel. Pray for our response team. As we’ve seen a surge in activity online, there are many more contacts who need guidance, discipleship, and prayer. Lift them up as they minister to more people, praying for wisdom and discernment.
* Names changed for security.
** All Bible quotations are from the ESV unless stated otherwise.
*** Testimonials shared here are direct quotes from our contacts. The views of these individuals are not necessarily the views of Arab World Media.