Arab Christians hungry and thankful for Christianity Explored
This article was first published in the October 2018 newsletter of The Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development and is reproduced here with kind permission.
There has been much excitement from churches in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region since the launch last year of Christianity Explored (CE) resources in Arabic.
It is published by Dar Manhal Al Hayat (DMAH), an arm of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development.
Christianity Explored Ministries Board Members John McDowell and John and Yolanda Ibbett went out to visit Egypt and Lebanon last month to lead training workshops, along with Craig Dyer, our Training Director.
Training people up
They met many Christians deeply grateful that they could now use the internationally renowned resources. “One of our overriding impressions has been the hunger for this material in all the MENA countries,” says Yolanda.
“When we launched a year ago, people stood up and they said, ‘Thank you. Thank you for coming. Thank you because we've prayed for 10 years that God will send us a tool like this.’
“You feel the sense of urgency, and we have something that is easy for them to use.”
The Arab world is desperate for new resources to share about Jesus with those who are seeking him. At each workshop participants receive Christianity Explored and SOUL (aimed at young people) which are seven-week series that enable seekers of the Christian faith to find out more by going through Mark’s Gospel and addressing three questions: Who is Jesus, why did he come, and what does it mean to follow him?
At the workshops, the CEM team teach attendees how best to use the resources in their church and community. There is opportunity for discussion, for people to ask questions, and for worship and devotions too. “We show them the videos, we get them to do a study session, so that they will be inspired to go away and get on and start using it,” says Yolanda.
Not just an evangelistic tool
What John and Yolanda have found in Egypt especially is that churches are not only using CE for outreach but also to build up the faith and understanding of their members.
“We found that it is actually being used as a discipleship tool,” says Yolanda. “Within certain contexts, they're teaching all their pastors and lay leaders how to study the Bible.
“In Egypt, my sense is that it has more to do with discipleship of the Christians and the growth of the Christian population.”
In September, 60 Christians attended the workshops in Alexandria and there were 86 at the one held in Minya. Security was tight at Minya following the killing of several Christians by extremists 10 days before. Yolanda was impressed by the bravery and passion of those who attended the workshops there. “Many of them are very poor, but they're very active Christians and very committed,” she says.
“They're very eager to learn more and to share their faith. What we realised was, not only was this workshop about teaching them about the course and the theology behind it, but also blessing them. We gave them effectively a weekend away. They stayed overnight, they were up till late at night, all chatting amongst themselves. They were having a break, a rest.”
Many who have attended previous workshops speak of the impact that the CE resources have had. An attendee from Egypt, told us: “I enjoyed attending the CE workshop last year. I’ve also enjoyed teaching this course to many groups at my church. The age of the participants varied between 18 and 45. Their interaction with the content was great and very encouraging. Thank you so much for this great curriculum.”
And in Lebanon a pastor who is teaching CE at one church in the mountains, shared his feedback with us: “I would like to thank you for this precious tool,” he said. “This course is great, it is life-changing and thought provoking. The interaction and discussions after watching the DVD are amazing.”
DMAH Publishing Director Sawsan Tannoury is pleased with the impact so far and the success of the eight workshops with the team in Egypt and Lebanon. “We continue to give thanks for the many ways the Lord has been using CE and SOUL, and we look for more years of blessed partnership,” she says.
Please pray for all those who have been trained by the CE team as they use the resources at their church with those that are seeking to know more about Jesus.
Did you know that our resources are used in over 110 countries in around 50 translations? In fact, we also appeared on Premier Radio this week, talking about Christianity Explored in Albania.
CATCH THE EPISODE
(We appear 39 minutes in)
Our international work is largely funded by the kind donations of our supporters. Would you consider giving to our global ministry?
FIND OUT MORE