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Equipping Church Planters During Crisis

Vernon Brewer
Jun 13, 2014

Today was our team’s last day on the ground in the Middle East. It has been a truly incredible trip—one that God has used to bring help and hope to hundreds of people.

I highly encourage you to read our reports from the field this past week. I am certain you will be both inspired and challenged by the stories of these brothers and sisters, many who have endured more than we could ever imagine. It is our privilege to walk alongside them to equip and support the work of the Gospel.

Even though our team left today, the training for 40 former Muslims—now Christ followers and future church planters—will continue for several days. The training course is part of a vision we have to enable refugees to share the Gospel with the people in their displaced communities.

church planter

The program is led by one of the most effective church-planting leaders in the Middle East, Pastor Ghassan. He understands all too well the challenges these believers face.

Over his years of ministry in Iraq and Turkey, Ghassan and his family faced terrible persecution. There have been numerous death threats and hate-filled plots to destroy his church. Now that Ghassan has relocated to a place of safety, he continues to passionately build the kingdom of God, one former Muslim at a time.

Ghassan has planted churches, trained pastors, and initiated the growth of hundreds of new believers who have converted from Islam. His leadership and vision is needed now more than ever before.

Church planter training

In the past few years, crisis and persecution has radically changed the lives of millions in the Middle East.

The U.N. estimates that 4,000 refugees cross the border into Turkey every day. They are from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Yemen, and other neighboring nations.

Most have no other choice but to live in overcrowded camps with as many as 150,000 people.

They have no way to make a living . . . no way to provide for their families . . . no knowledge of the hope they can experience through Christ.

The problem is tragic and overwhelming, but God has opened the doors for us to make a historical impact through our partnership with Ghassan.

Through his extensive expertise, we have identified hundreds of our brothers and sisters who come from Muslim backgrounds to share the Good News with their communities.

These believers know and understand Islamic culture firsthand. They are very familiar with the challenges of bringing the Gospel to Muslim areas and offer incredible insight to the best strategies to reach these communities.

Mabarak and his wife Na’eemah (names changed for security reasons) are refugees from Iraq who have joined us in Turkey for training. Mubarak was a very devout Muslim and was known for his unwavering loyalty by everyone in his community. He was a prominent Muslim leader and teacher and was even sent by the government to Mecca as a reward for his piety.

One day, Mabarak’s cousin confessed to him that he had converted to Christianity. Working as a translator, he had befriended an American soldier who eventually shared the Gospel with him.

Mabarak was curious and began researching Christianity for himself. He soon began to question Islam and was plagued with doubt. His wife, who was extremely devout, became worried and questioned why her husband was not actively practicing Islam.

Outsiders began to take notice of Mabarak’s disillusionment and set out to make an example of him. One day, he was kidnapped by extremists and severely beaten for questioning Islam. His body was displayed in front of his home as a threat to anyone who dared to do the same.

Mabarak and Na’eemah gathered their family and fled to Turkey.

It was here that Mabarak finally summoned the courage to attend a church. Suddenly, the truth became clear. He soon accepted Christ and began experiencing more freedom and peace than he’d ever known.

When Mabarak told his wife he had become a Christian, she became very angry. There was great confusion in their household and among their children as Muslim and Christian ideologies collided. But even then, God was beginning to work on Na’eemah’s heart.

One day, while reading the Bible, her eyes were finally opened. The relief was palpable . . . she no longer had to cling to a rigid set of regulations and the bonds of false religion. The Jesus she had encountered was approachable, loving, and strong . . . unlike any god she had ever known.

Church planting - World Help

When news reached Mabarak’s family of  the couple’s conversion, they were publically disowned. The pain was fierce, but they knew there was no turning back. The church was now their family.  

Scholarships for refugee church planters, like Mabarak and Na’eemah, includes an intensive Biblical training course, expert support, and access to incredible resources through Ghassan and his staff.

After the couple is trained, their ultimate goal will be to share the Gospel with the people within their new community in Turkey.

New believer

Other trained refugees will serve as strategic ambassadors of the Gospel in heavily Muslim areas all over the Middle East and even into Europe.

Even though believers in the Middle East are scattered, they have been united under the extraordinary mission of the Gospel.

I’ll never forget their faces, their stories, their unshakable trust in the power of God to do the impossible.

This is why World Help exists—to usher in the hope of the Gospel to some of the most spiritually oppressed places on earth.  I hope you’ll get involved in every way you can.

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