Thursday, May 2, 2013

Lebanon - Peace is on the move

God changes lives. He certainly changed mine. 

But for a Muslim to make a commitment to follow Jesus means leaving family and friends behind... or worse. As a missionary you can spend years ministering in this part of the world and not see much fruit.

One of my favorite missionaries is a 55-year-old man who has lived there for 35 years. He and his wife raised their kids there. I think he's almost more Arab than American now.
Packing food for Syrian refugees

He's lived through a lot. One story stuck in my mind. He was remembering the worst days of the civil war, which ran from 1975 to 1990. The land was dangerous and Islamic terrorist organizations were targeting American and Christians spreading the gospel. A missionary couple was guilty on both counts and feared that they would be hit by a car bomb. So each morning, when the man left the house, the wife would sit in the car with him until he'd started the car. If one of them was going to die, they wanted to go to heaven together.

If there's a book about the history in the Arab world that this missionary friend hasn't read it's not worth reading. He's lead countless teams in evangelistic and humanitarian campaigns through the Middle East. He is now a lecturer, invited in to do short-term teaching engagements at missions bases across the world.

He's sacrificed a lot to be here. He regularly gets invited to speak at conferences but has to insist that the organizers not publish his name or picture or record his talks. This shyness limits his career. He's almost a hidden gem, speaking Arabic fluently, knowing the culture like it's his own. Recently he's spoken to the senior leadership at different Christian ministries, advising them on how to conduct their own evangelistic outreach to Muslims.

It's very difficult being a missionary in the Muslim world but things are changing.


A young American missionary in Beirut has a theory. He believes that the tragedy at the World Trade Center in New York woke the North American church to the Muslim world. At roughly the same time, God was instilling in the Church a renewed passion for prayer. A number of 24/7 prayer movements (, started in the early 2000s.

God is moving. The underground church in Iran is the fastest growing church in the world. Satellite TV and the Internet are opening doors to places the church has never been able to go. And God is moving powerfully through dreams and visions.

God loves us and God loves the Middle East. The people there are beautifully generous and open. I shared many cups of sweet tea in Syrian refugee camps, provided by people who don't have much more than that to eat or drink themselves.

A few Muslim leaders teach their flock to hate Westerners. But I bet that while sitting in a makeshift tent in a refugee camp, smiling, shaking hands, playing with little kids, the hate starts to feel irrational, especially when the Americans (and Canadian) in your tent just gave you big bags of food that you so desperately need.

As one Syrian put it, "in 1989 I hated you. I wanted to kill you. But how does it help if someone kills your son and you go and kills his? It just makes you a killer too. Better to say I forgive you."

Amen. God is on the move.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Andrew. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.