Jamie Matenga Wood is the Director of Pioneers in New Zealand and leads the mobilisation track of the World Evangelical Alliance Missions Commission. Pioneers is a strategic partner of MISSION WORLD.
Throughout the Middle East, Arabs in their thousands are discovering new faith through social media and Christian websites.
“The Arab Spring” is the name given to recent events in the Arab world. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain have seen major upheaval, much of it ongoing. Every Arab country has been impacted in some way and it’s understood that these liberation movements have arisen because more and more Arabs are online and “connected.”
Arab World Media, a ministry of Pioneers, publishes material for the very generation that has sparked off these monumental events – the large 18-35 age group. For many of them, education and exposure to the rest of the world leads them to question the way their countries are run. Thanks to the Internet, they can now question openly and anonymously, find others who share their discontent, and encourage change.
Arabs in their thousands are also discovering a new contentment through open discussion on Christian websites. Between January and March, Pioneers’ Arab World Media websites attracted almost 250,000 unique hits, with an astounding 557,000 pages viewed. The websites report significant evidence of a growing hunger for God among young Muslims.
Here’s a translation of one of the messages received during 2011’s first quarter:
“Hello, I am 25 years old and come from a normal Muslim family. When I was 13, I rebelled and stopped praying. My father became very angry and beat me. In the end he gave up. I still didn’t pray but I realised I was an unbeliever and wouldn’t go to heaven. I really began to worry about this and became convinced I was one of the ‘family of hell’ with no hope. I discovered that Islam has no concept of living forever. In the end I returned to Islamic praying. Then, one day during my prayers, I cried out to God in true desperation and in a way I had never done before.
“Two years ago I bought a computer and was able to search on the Internet for ‘punishment in the grave.’ And this is how I found Christianity. It is logical to me and God has opened my eyes and answered my desperate prayer. When I discovered the truth, my fears were broken: I was sure that Islam is not a religion from God and without delay I believed in the Messiah. Now I have peace and freedom inside!” (a respondent in the Arab Peninsula).
Every day, in quite miraculous ways, more Arabs decide to follow Jesus as he is revealed to them via Christian websites, mobile phone services, Christian satellite TV/radio, or even dreams and visions.
What they lack are people to help disciple them into mature men and women of the Christian faith. Please join us in prayer that The Arab Spring would bear much fruit and the Lord of the harvest would raise up labourers for the Middle East connection.