Middle East and North Africa: Coffee and fire 

A chat about discipleship over fresh coffee, open-air prayers around a glowing bonfire – to many of us this might sound idyllic.  

But this setting was far from relaxed for Karim* because he was secretly meeting with IFES staff. “This is the only way we can give ministry support in his country without putting the local group at risk,” says Jamil, regional secretary for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. 

The Cost of Following Christ 

In recent months, one young woman, a secret attendee of their fellowship group, was exposed when her family spotted a message on her phone. She is now “sanctioned” at home.  

Karim has also faced hostility for his faith. When he was just 16, his family rejected him for turning from Islam to follow Jesus. He was left to fend for himself on the streets. 

A Growing Group and Need  

But God is faithful. Thanks to the kindness of school friends, Karim was periodically invited to wash his clothes, eat a good meal, and have a bed for the night. As they offered care, he offered faith, leading all six friends to know Christ.  

As students, these friends lived out their faith and connected with others; now, the ministry in their city involves around 16 students and graduates.  

With such growth, the need for fellowship and discipleship is great, especially since they cannot attend the few churches that exist – as converts, they would put the church at risk of being persecuted for having proselytes. So, in February, Karim reached out to Jamil, asking for help with leadership training.  

Creative Solutions for a Bright Future   

A month later, seven students and graduates were invited to a different Muslim-majority country, where IFES MENA staff were able to provide training on leadership and Bible study. Having seen their enthusiasm and faith, Jamil anticipates the strategic impact the newly equipped leaders can have: “These believers represent the future of the church in that city!” 

The formal training was then followed by an informal visit by IFES staff to the country. The mentoring continued – but inconspicuously, in a cafe, over coffee.  

And when finished, wanting to pray together, they drove for an hour out of the city, into the desert. Away from spying eyes, they lit a fire and prayed for God’s flame to burn bright among them.  


Let’s pray for this group and their witness in this Middle Eastern country:  

  • Give thanks for Karim* and the way God used him to raise up student witness in his city. 
  • Pray that God will protect all those involved in the group and change the hearts of family members who stand opposed to Christ.  
  • Pray for the seven leaders who recently received training – that they will remain steadfast in their faith and be used by God to multiply the group and establish its witness. 

* Name changed to protect identity. 

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