Can you imagine?
Can you picture this scene? A local pastor in North Africa was in church on the Lord’s Day preparing for the service. He heard a gentle but persistent knock at the door. Since Christians are habitually persecuted and harassed in his country, he responded to the stranger’s approach with caution, although he soon became aware that the newcomer was in genuine distress. The dejected Salim* recounted to the pastor 13 long years of bearing a crushing load of guilt for sins committed. When he had approached one of the local imams (religious leaders) he was met with the pronouncement that he would have to carry this weight of guilt with him to the tomb. One day, he heard a message on the radio about Jesus Christ and how only he could pay the price for our sins and open the way to heaven. Salim summoned all his courage and made his way to the church. Two hours after his conversation with the pastor, he was professing his repentance and faith in Christ to the entire congregation.
At the same time, Karima, a housewife living nearby in the same city, was at home doing the ironing. As a distraction, she browsed the television channels to see if there was something that appealed to her. When she alighted upon some pleasant traditional music, her attention was drawn to the content of the broadcast, which was about God’s personal love for sinners. That night, she had a vivid and disturbing dream about the preacher’s words. The next morning, she searched for the Christian channel, noted the contact details displayed, and called the number, which directed her to the local church. Today, Karima tells others of the love of Christ and is a committed member of the church.
Such stories, multiplied by hundreds, are one of the reasons that we have been involved in media ministry to the Arab world for the past 12 years. The last time we visited a church in North Africa together, we attended a baptism of 57 believers. There was not enough time to listen to each person’s story, but we heard enough to realise that nearly every new believer had heard the gospel at some time through Christian media.
A rainbow of promises
Based in France and now working in partnership with UFM Worldwide, we have recently formed a new media group, Arab Focus Media. Our vision is to see Christ glorified among the unreached peoples living in the 21 countries of the Arab world. A typical Christian satellite television programme in the Middle East can draw as many as eight million viewers. In spring 2014, we launched our latest television series, A Rainbow of Promises, based on some well-known promises in God’s Word. Last summer, we hosted a team of people from around the world and filmed two Tunisians discussing these promises on location. They explained the promise of John 15:7 in a local vineyard and Proverbs 18:10 in a protestant castle in the Cévennes hills. This series was broadcast on Channel North Africa.
As well as proclaiming the gospel via traditional means such as radio, television and literature distribution, we also use the internet with a mobile platform to reach out to Arabic-speakers. Our new interactive website www.shabibah.org (‘shabibah’ means ‘youth’ in Arabic) provides an effective way to correspond with seekers and encourage believers. Many of the questions we receive are very direct and challenging, and wisdom and discernment is needed when corresponding with our Arabic friends. There is also a pressing need for discipleship and training of church leaders. We are thankful for opportunities to visit believers in their locality and teach and train them in handling God’s word.
There is a great sense of excitement when we speak with our Christian friends from the Arab world. God is using media to touch the hearts and transform the lives of those he has called from that region. Who could have imagined the surge of growth we have witnessed of the church in this part of God’s vineyard over the past 30 years? To God be the glory!
M and J
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more about how to pray for this ministry.
*All names in this article have been changed