How Did It Go Last Week?
Ian Roberts, Chief Executive, shares the ways God's Spirit is moving in the Arab world with the Arabic launch of Christianity Explored and SOUL.
A simple question the other day from one of my cricket team mates - but what a challenge to sum up in a few words! How do you assess a first visit to both Egypt and Lebanon - a week that saw us launch the Arabic translations of Christianity Explored and Soul - which started just a few days after the horrific attack on a bus in the South of Egypt that left around 30 Coptic Christians dead?
I’m sure the issue of security was paramount in the eyes of those we left behind in Britain. And we were of course very grateful for all the prayers in that respect. But as the awful attacks on London Bridge and Borough Market showed, we would have been closer to terrorism if we’d stayed at home.
Egypt is a big country. And our hosts made sure we were made extremely welcome. Around 130 or so listened attentively to training spread over two days. And they left apparently eager to use our materials in a Church starved of good quality resources.
In Lebanon travel distances are shorter. So training was crammed into one day. Again around 130 came to the Arab Baptist Seminary courtesy of our host publisher, Dar-Manhal-Alhayat. And again the mood was very enthusiastic. We left believing we’d sown seed on fertile territory.
One of the things that struck me most was the enormous diversity in all that we experienced. Lebanon was beautiful. The people were warm. And Beirut seemed nothing like the war torn city I’d heard about in my teenage years back in the 70s. But the influx of unknown numbers of Syrian refugees has added massive growth to a relatively small and already incredibly diverse population. It’s a fascinating and complex mix.
In contrast, Egypt seemed to be a proud country suffering sadness at her economic decline. The tourist industry has largely collapsed. Yet Cairo was still a vibrant buzzing city when we arrived late at night. And crossing the road safely was an art we thankfully never had to master!
Most clear of all, though, was the evidence of a movement of God’s spirit in the midst of enormous change. One brother expressed it something like this:
“In the west, you seem to think that Jesus says ‘IF’ trouble and persecution comes. He doesn’t say that. He says ‘WHEN’. We see this as quite normal. This is not unusual. This is how He works.”
He is at work in the Arab world. And it was a privilege for all our team to witness this at first hand.
Christianity Explored Ministries helps people love, live and tell the good news about Jesus Christ. To learn more about our resources visit ceministries.org.