The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is a difficult one for Christian ministry. In these Muslim majority countries, heavy restrictions, isolation and fear can lead to Christians feeling that they are, as several Middle Eastern believers have described it, 'the minority of a minority of a minority'. Yet God is at work and there is great courage, freedom and boldness among Christ's followers there.
Every year the MENA region holds a bible study training conference to help students engage more deeply with God’s word and to equip student leaders to lead and train others in their home countries. Such events are crucial not only for the training they provide, but for the encouragement they give to students who have little opportunity to meet other Christians. In the words of one participant, ‘Contact with an IFES group gave me new hope, and has helped me to walk in the word and keep the faith. It is encouraging to be surrounded by other students who are experiencing the same difficulties.’
View from the inside:
Jamil, Regional Secretary for the IFES MENA region, writes: ‘The work of God should not be measured in terms of in time, and ministry in closed countries even less so. The most important thing is to be present, to use every opportunity to preach the word, to support Christians on the spot, to seek to develop movements where as yet there is no IFES presence, and to strengthen the faith of those who are oppressed – helping them to persevere and to stand firm. Everything we do will then be a means not only to bring new souls to the lord but also to maintain the faith of those who are already Christians.’
- for protection and wisdom for Christian students and staff who live in countries where it is not safe to be known as a Christian;
- for grace and wisdom to live lives of obedience in the midst of conflict;
- for boldness to share Christ with other students;
- for the many university students who are new believers, that they will grow and be strengthened in the faith, conformed more and more into the image of Jesus;
- for peace throughout the region.