Encouraging the heart of Rafid*

By the director of Arab World Media

My name is Rafid. I come from a traditional tribe of Bedouin descent. We are a very close-knit and extremely conservative family. We live in a rural community where everyone knows everyone else’s business, in a very oil-rich country. My family, my tribe, and my country will not tolerate anyone who dares to follow the Jesus of the Bible.

I came to faith in Jesus Christ four years ago after becoming extremely disillusioned with Islam, but as far as I know, I am the only one in this community who follows Christ. I dare not share my faith with anyone – not even my wife or children – though I long for the day when they too will follow Jesus as the Messiah of the world.

I read the Bible on my smart phone and I pray, but I have no fellowship with anyone. I am actually quite lonely. I would so much like to study the Bible and regularly meet with someone to learn more about Christ, but there is nobody here to meet with me.

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Helping those who are suffering

By a response team member

The eye sees far, but the reach of the hand is short. So goes a crisp and memorable Arab proverb. I first saw it in a message from one of our correspondents and have often since used it in replying to requests for help. For what can we say when someone suffering in another country writes to us seeking our aid? What can we do practically for them?

Some of those who contact us do indeed suffer. They face poverty and debt. They seek opportunities for jobs and education – and even risk a perilous crossing of the Mediterranean to find them. They suffer emotionally, some even to the point of wanting to commit suicide. Recently, we encouraged those who are depressed to follow a self-help module with teaching given by a fine Iraqi lady believer and also to write to us personally. As a result, many women shared their burdens with us. Finally, some of our correspondents face suffering and persecution because they have made a stand for Jesus in front of their family.

So, as their messages come to us, what can we do? First of all, we must pray for them. Then we seek to offer them what consolation and encouragement we can. The eye sees far…. Our God does indeed see, as Hagar experienced when she fled from Sarah who was ill-treating her (Genesis 16:6-14). We assure them that he knows and understands their suffering and that the reach of his hand is not short (Isaiah 59:1). We encourage them to look to God for help.

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Love your enemy

By a Media team member

Flogged. Struck. Ridiculed. Slapped. Mocked. Spat upon. Beaten. Insulted. Stripped.

These are some of the words the Bible uses to describe what happened to Jesus in the hours before his crucifixion. The Son of God was utterly humiliated. He was tortured, then murdered, by the people he came to save.

Then, as the early church grew, there was opposition. Stephen was stoned. The church was scattered. Saul pursued them. We know that all but one of the disciples died for the faith. Death and suffering were there at the beginning of Christianity.

Most of us will not experience this kind of persecution in our lifetime. As a UK resident, I feel fairly safe and do not expect things to drastically change for a very long time. In other parts of the world, however, believers are experiencing and witnessing horrific things for the ‘sake of righteousness’ (Matthew 5:10), just like Jesus and the early believers did.

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Prayer postcard

Download a prayer postcard to print and stick on your fridge, notice board, or in your Bible.

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Walking away from revenge

By a Media team member

While living in the Islamic world, I had an English student who required some extra tutoring. This young man would come to my office before class to get assistance on the finer details of this difficult language. One day, he shared with me that he, his brothers and a cousin would be going that week to execute revenge on another cousin who had stolen a vehicle from his father’s business. Rahim* spoke matter-of-factly about the weapon they would use, the method of execution and the importance of blood being spilled. This, to him, was the only way that honour could be restored to his father’s name. Blood had to be spilled. I trust my face didn’t display the horror my heart was feeling as he talked.

As calmly as I could, I expressed my concern about how this way of handling conflicts would simply perpetuate further clashes.

His response was, ‘But you don’t understand our culture, teacher; you don’t understand our deen (religion).’

As we discussed the situation further, I asked, ‘How does your father feel about this?’ to which he replied, ‘My father is soft. He doesn’t think we should do it, but we see no other way.’

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No healing without forgiveness

By the Director of Arab World Media

So what can you do in the midst of adversity? You can kneel; you can weep, and weep, and weep. Complain if you must, groan if you must, and get angry if you must. This you can do. There is one thing you must not do. Dear brothers and sisters, stay far away from bitterness and from blaming others. No matter what it is, don’t blame others. Do that and you are dangerously close to forfeiting all future spiritual growth. (Gene Edwards)

Forgiveness is a choice. We all know this. Choosing to forgive in the face of hurt, injustice, or tragedy becomes a tremendous building block for our faith. Choosing not to forgive, however, is a stumbling block that hinders our spiritual growth. While an unforgiving spirit produces bitterness, anger and hatred, an attitude of forgiveness brings love, joy and peace, and enables us to live in freedom before Christ.

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Reaching ‘Samir’

Meet Samir, a young man in his twenties or thirties. He wants to know the truth, has rejected Islam, and is most likely an atheist. He seeks answers to intellectual questions and is looking to be part of a community based on love. He has a need for certainty about what is true, and may believe that religion and science do not mix.

It’s hard to believe that a person like Samir exists in the Arab world but, surprisingly, atheism is on the rise. At one time we could rely on the common ground of a belief in God as the starting point for discussions about faith, but now we cannot always take that for granted. 

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Highlights from 2014

We asked several members of the Media team what their highlight was for 2014. Here are their replies…

I think a highlight of 2014 for me was launching the Live Chat module on our website. Our response team first requested this at our meetings in June, and it was finally launched in late October. Since then we’ve seen hundreds of visitors making use of it, with several actually giving their lives to Christ during a chat session.

Web Developer

I think a highlight for me was launching the first of our self-help modules for women, on depression. I was excited to get this tool into people’s hands. It was amazing to see that in one month from the time it was launched, the self-help video was downloaded over 16,000 times! It is wonderful to think of people looking at this on their phones, sharing it with friends, bringing hope and help into dark corners all over the Arab world.

Online Ministry Director

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