The author is from the Caribbean and has served on the mission field since 2017, first in Southeast Asia and now in the Near East.
When Amid* became a believer as a teenager and started university soon after, God gave him a strong desire to work with Muslims in his largely Islamic North African country. During his time studying, he visited the ‘Floating Book Exhibition’, a mission ship that sailed along the Nile River. When it came to Amid’s country, he was fascinated by the power of book ministry, both by the work onboard the ship and what the mission organisation was doing in other parts of his country. Amid started volunteering with the local mission team. Upon graduation, he began working full time with the team and continued the book ministry in different parts of his country.
As political and religious instability escalated in Amid’s country, most of the Christian community fled to one region and many other believers left the country. Amid and the rest of the local mission team were among the few believers who stayed in the region with the Muslim majority. ‘Since we couldn’t do ministry as we did before, we decided to focus on the remaining Christian youth and train them to evangelise,’ he explained.
After four years of serving in his country, Amid joined Doulos for one year. During this time, he heard about Missions Discipleship Training in South Africa and felt that this was something he could tailor and use in his country.1 ‘I want to use the training to raise local leaders in my country to be missionaries,’ said Amid. Returning from the ship, Amid got married and went to South Africa for training. When he returned home, he and his team successfully held three training sessions in three years with young local believers in his home country. However, the national churches had never heard about taking ownership of church planting and discipleship, which made it difficult for them to accept the idea and even to want to reach out to Muslim people. Amid’s wife Mariam* explained: ‘It’s important to raise up local believers who can disciple others and plant churches so the gospel can take root.’ However, after three years of running the six-month courses, further political pressure caused the ministry to cease as local and foreign mission workers were being arrested or forced to leave the country.
…we decided to focus on the remaining Christian youth and train them to evangelise.
Being the leader of the local mission team, Amid was sought by the police, and team members were questioned about his whereabouts. Amid recalled: ‘My wife and I decided to leave and spend time in a neighbouring country until things calmed down, with the hope of returning to continue our work. However, we received word from my parents that their lives were threatened by the police and they thought it best for us not to return.’
Seeking the necessary paperwork to receive refugee status and migrate to the West, Amid, his wife and newborn baby went to another neighbouring country in North Africa. They planned on staying only one week in that new country and then flying to a Western country, but God had different plans. Six and half years later, Amid and his family are still in North Africa. He noted: ‘I realised God wanted me to continue serving Him here in North Africa.’
Amid discovered a large number of refugees from his home country in this neighbouring North African country. As the majority of people were Muslims, it provided new opportunities for Amid to reach his people. He shared: ‘The vision I had to reach my people was now being revived, as I can share the love of Jesus with them in a country where we are all refugees.’
At first, Amid focused on church planting among the refugees, but soon he realised he wanted to reach those who were still in his home country. ‘I want to continue training local believers to reach all these districts,’ explained Amid. Soon enough, Amid made connections with young believers in his home country and invited them to travel to his location to receive six months of training. Afterwards, they returned home to disciple believers and plant new churches among their Muslim neighbours.
Growing the Simple Church
John,* a believer from Amid’s country, became one of the leading promoters of the training in their local churches after he had completed the six months’ training himself. John emphasised how important it was to teach believers to reach out to Muslims in a Muslim-majority nation. ‘In my country, there is not a strong relationship between Muslims and Christian believers. We stay far from each other and don’t dare share Jesus with them,’ he said.
John grew up in a Christian home and always had a desire to disciple believers in his church. ‘I realised I needed to learn more about the Bible to disciple others. This was the main reason why I joined Amid’s training programme,’ explained John.
During the training, he realised the huge privilege and opportunity he had to teach the Bible to believers and reach out to the Islamic majority, especially in his village. John’s new passion to reach Muslim people has caused him to become the lead recruiter for Amid’s training in their home country, going to different churches to promote the training and encourage believers to love and minister to their Muslim neighbours. Being a tentmaker, John uses his job as a builder to reach out when he goes to Islamic homes to work.
The vision I had to reach my people was now being revived, as I can share the love of Jesus with them in a country where we are all refugees.
In their home country, most believers are reluctant to share the gospel because there is a huge fear of the government and ignorance of how to minister to Muslims. Another challenge in church planting is finding a place to worship. Only churches that have been established for decades can have services within the church buildings, but people are afraid to go to church, especially Muslim background believers. ‘We have to rent houses under someone else’s name to have somewhere to meet for church,’ explained John.
Emad,* another team leader, highlighted the fact that, in light of the government restrictions, house churches are more effective for discipleship and security. ‘When we start a church and disciple new believers, we do it in small groups in private places. This way is safer for Muslim background believers, and you can disciple them better in small groups,’ he explained.
Emad grew up in a Christian family and also had a desire to share the gospel in his country. He first met with Amid and joined his training while they were both still serving in their home country. After the training, he started to reach out to others in different districts. Amid asked Emad to join the mission team as a leader and to help out in the Christian bookshop.
Emad was among the team members who were arrested and interrogated by the police when political upheaval forced Christians out of the nation. After a few years, Emad fled to the same neighbouring country as Amid and reconnected with his old team leader. ‘My passion to reach out to Muslims continued and I started leading the relief work, and worked with Amid in the training programme in this neighbouring country,’ he said.
Currently, Amid and his team have trained 50 national believers who are serving in most of the districts in their country. They hope to send workers to the remaining two districts and to raise up additional workers in the districts where there are only one or two people serving.
- for Amid and his team to seek wisdom as they serve in North Africa
- for more local believers from Amid’s home country to have a growing passion to reach their Muslim neighbours
- for Muslim background believers to keep strong in the faith in the midst of persecution, and for wisdom as they share their faith.