Middle East Church Leaders Report Record Growth, Conversions
More than 30 leaders from across the Middle East gathered in early November to learn, be encouraged, and report on church planting efforts.
In one country, we now have over 400 church planters and 1,600 new house churches. This effort has happened in the last 10 years! In every country in the Middle East, we are seeing rapid expansion of the Kingdom.
We now minister to over 18,000 families in Jordan. Family after family give a similar testimony; “We praise God for ISIS, because ISIS brought us as refugees to Jordan where we heard the message of Christ and are now believers.”
In some of the most war-torn places in the Middle East, we are witnesses to a movement to Christ like never seen before. Many are coming to Christ. Our leaders are reporting that although they have lived in the Middle East their entire lives, they have never seen as many majority-faith people converting to Christ as the number happening now.
Recently, we heard the account of a young man who is of the region’s majority faith responding with great excitement to the message of Christ. In mid-November, almost 100 majority-faith young people gathered in one city to hear the message of Christ.
Plans are in motion to expand this year into additional countries with church planting.
Please pray for our leaders. Most are risking their security to proclaim Christ. Pray for “Dan” who has recently been interrogated by authorities because of his bold faith.
Majority Faith Leader Comes to Faith in Christ
On a sunny, beautiful day, a team from Free Methodist World Missions drove for three hours, in 100+ temperatures, to meet Jameel. He is our ministry leader in a city of about 1 million people on the eastern border of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq. Jameel insisted that we meet at a coffee shop for security purposes. He introduced us to a group of eight new believers and seekers of Christ – all of them Kurds from the majority faith. We shared from the Word of God about the meaning of the gospel and the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Everyone was very quiet as they listened carefully to every word and responded with questions, further discussion, and sometimes objections.
The most surprising among the group was Salim, who is a religious leader in the majority faith. Salim is a handsome man in his early forties who spoke fiercely against the majority faith. He eloquently described the contrast between the love and peace he experiences in knowing Christ compared to the hatred and violence of his background. He smiled and told us that his family keeps asking him, “Why did you stop coming to prayers in the community center?”
Salim said he is waiting for the right moment to share about his new faith with his extended family. This announcement could have extremely dangerous repercussions on him personally and on his wife and children. Please keep Salim and his family in your prayers as they grow in their faith in Christ. Pray our courageous leader in this region will have wisdom and strength as he disciples these new believers. *Names were changed for the safety of the local believers.
Several years ago, individuals from Dearborn Free Methodist Church began mirroring the love of Jesus and crossing dividing walls to welcome and aid the underserved Arab population in their community.
Previously, the city of Dearborn, Michigan was primarily populated by Anglo communities until 2005 when they became the minority; Dearborn now has the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East.
Committed to resisting fear and loving in radical ways, the Church began developing cross-cultural, and paradigm-shifting relationships to serve their neighbors. The Church began listening to the needs of the refugee community and responding by creating avenues for transportation, translation, and opportunities to learn English.
Pray that the love that many Arabs are experiencing from the Church continues to defy stereotypes, break down walls, and lead them to the relentless love of Jesus.
World Missions Prayer Calendar: January
In 2013 Pastor Belley, a Congolese Free Methodist working in Guinea, began partnering with the FMCUSA to start FM churches. The work has expanded to include several young churches and small fellowships. Pray for the church planters in the Forest Region who are actively reaching out to establish new churches.
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Pray for church planting efforts that have expanded to neighboring countries and for the superintendent, his family and church members as they have been aggressively persecuted by the police.
Pray for the church plant in Petrich and the relationships with Roma churches as the FM Bulgaria team hosts workshops and mentoring for pastors.
Pray for the 61 churches working in cooperation with the MidAmerica Annual Conference as they seek to reach people for Christ and raise up godly leaders.
Pray for Mike and Vickie Reynen as they transition from Kenya to the west African country of Togo. Mike and Vickie will soon begin studying French in preparation for this transition.
Birthday: Mike Reynen
The turmoil and unrest in the region have continued unabated for more than a decade, affording an unprecedented opportunity for ministry to people of the majority culture. Pray for Pastor H and his team as they provide for the daily needs of Syrian and Iraqi refugee households as well as spiritual help through Bible studies.
Hungary + Ecuador
Pray that developing leaders in Europe would feel confident of God’s calling and direction for their families and their ministries and boldly lead their congregations with love and grace. Pray that their financial needs would be met.
Birthday: Larry Winckles
Pray for J.R. Crouse as he continues to coordinate team projects and trips with national leaders in Central and South America. Pray that teams are directed to the projects that will be most beneficial.
Birthday: J.R. Crouse
Pray for the church planting programs that are initiated by students attending the Great Commission Bible School as part of their studies. Pray that the school would have great success in training excellent pastors.
The Philippine Free Methodist Church has several holistic child development centers providing opportunities to share the gospel. Pray for the children’s workers and ministries to street children.
Pray for the two churches in the Lisbon suburbs. They regularly sponsor worship and missionary conferences to build up the body of Christ. They also train people for church planting ministry.
In spite of great tragedy and loss caused by natural disasters, the church has seen significant growth. Pray for wisdom for church leaders as they seek to help people grow in their faith and overcome the ravages of poverty.
Some 1.6 million Israeli Arabs reside in Israel and many don’t yet know Jesus as Savior. Pray for the church planting efforts among the Arab population.
For several years, the nation of Zimbabwe has endured terrible suffering. The nation’s political leadership has been in turmoil. The economy is precarious with the world’s fastest rate of inflation. Pray for peace to prevail within the church and for solutions to the nation’s unemployment, health crisis and food shortage.
A country where only 1-2% of the people are Christians is in need of a fresh awakening to Christ. Pray for believers to reach out to their neighbors and friends, and for youth to dedicate themselves to training and ministry.
Pray for the Lanzarote congregation, which has a dynamic outreach to children throughout the area. Pray also for the successful efforts of Community Church Planting.
Many Bulgarians are leaving their homeland due to economic hardships. Pray for Diane Mellinger as she works with local people to supplement their income through micro-enterprise endeavors. Pray for wisdom as the Bulgarian team works through government paperwork and permits to open a safe home for girls.
Birthday: Diane Mellinger
A Haitian church was planted in French Guiana several years ago with oversight provided by Haitian church leaders. Pray for the continued vision and direction for the ministry in French Guiana and the ongoing outreach efforts.
Christians in Iraq have undergone intense conflict and persecution over the years, causing many to flee. Many of the displaced began to meet in house fellowships, some near ISIS strongholds. Pray for the physical safety of FM church planters and those who gather for worship.
A Malawian pastor began the work in Zambia near the border by Tanzania. Another work was started by a Rwandan refugee. Pray for effective discipleship for new believers.
Pray for the FMC in Darwin started by Emma Agarao, a Filipino pastor. The congregation has French, Australian, Aborigine, Malaysian and Filipino attendees. Pray for this church as it reaches out to Asians and expands to other cities.
The work in Ukraine is led by several dedicated lay leaders. Their emphasis is on developing new relationships and discipling new believers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Pray for wisdom, spiritual growth and daily faith for the young lay leaders and for cessation of the hostilities in eastern Ukraine.
Most of the Free Methodist churches in Ecuador started through outreach to children in partnership with International Child Care Ministries (ICCM). Pray for a core group of young adults (mainly ICCM graduates) who have started a cell-based church in Quito. The church was started by Pastor Eunice Alvarez, a missionary from Mexico who is currently serving the district as the Area Director’s representative.
More than 1,600 new house churches have been planted in just one country. Discipling new believers and multiplying leaders are major thrusts. Many gifted young women are leading the work. Pray for the ongoing discipleship of new believers.
A sizable congregation has been formed in Jinga through the outreach efforts of the FMC in Kenya. Pray for Rev. Manasseh Masiza as he plants new churches in Uganda. Pray also for believers who suffer persecution.
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Pray for the national leader who is training church planters, and for wisdom when dealing with obstacles and opposition to the Gospel.
Hungary with ministry such as music, children, hospitality, English, discipleship, visitation, outreach and website maintenance.
Birthday: Katie Winckles
Pray for the ministries in Thessaloniki that give aid to the poor and provide hospitality and holistic work to end modern-day slavery. Anti-trafficking work has been established in Athens through partnerships with the Salvation Army and the Set Free Movement.
Pray for the main church in San Salvador which ministers in a country in turmoil due in part to drug trafficking in the Central American region. Pray for more churches to be planted and protection and peace for the nation.
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Pray for Keith as he pursues his doctoral studies and that he would have wisdom and safety in his research.
Pray for people of the majority culture, who have experienced the compassion of Christians, to be open to the gospel and for persecution of believers to be minimized.
Pray for Guy and Betsy Crawford as they support and encourage the Community Church Planting vision in Mexico.
Birthday: Guy Crawford