Throughout 2012, HeartCry has seen a number of developments in the church-planting efforts of our partners in the Middle East.
In 2012, HeartCry took up the support of another missionary/pastor in Israel. Samuil L. is the pastor of “Light of Life” congregation near Tel Aviv. He and his wife Ella immigrated to Israel from Ukraine in 1995, and they immediately began working in evangelism among their fellow Jews. The “Light of Life” began in 1997 as a small Bible study in three or four homes in the area. As the congregation grew, it moved to a single location, and these small seeds of a church plant grew into a body of believers that today numbers around eighty persons. Samuil has served as their pastor since 2005.
In this past year, HeartCry also ended its support of church planter Michael K. Michael’s wife Svetlana passed away at the beginning of 2012 at the young age of 31. This is the second wife that Michael has lost, and he is now a single father of two young daughters and a son. We continued our support of Michael for as long as he needed, yet due to his loss, he returned to the U.S. to be near his children’s grandparents.
Antony S. and Leonid B. have continued their steady work in evangelism and overseeing the churches that they pastor. In 2012, they took upon themselves the responsibility of caring for the large number of Sudanese refugees that have fled to Israel from the Darfur region of Sudan.
Antony or Leonid visit this impoverished and poorly treated group three or four times a week. Numerous times, Antony has expressed to us the urgency of this work. The open door is slowly closing as the Israeli government is beginning to deport them.
Finally, Antony and Leonid have initiated what they have named the “I Love Isaiah 53” Evangelistic Campaign. Their immediate goal is to expose as many Jews as possible to the great truths regarding the Messiah which the chapter contains.
In 2012, the men with whom we work in Egypt were visited with both blessing and trials. In lower Egypt, Samuel S. is finishing his third year of church planting. Sam and the little group of believers are continuing to be shaped by the Scriptures through study, prayer, and fellowship. It is a great encouragement to witness their growth over the past three years that we have partnered with them. While there are still areas of much-needed improvement, there is nonetheless a sense of God working through them. In September, seven new believers made their public profession of faith in the Lord Jesus through baptism.
In Cairo, our dear brothers have gone through a great deal of sorrow, as Pastor Hani R. was killed in a fatal car wreck. Hani was a gifted teacher and leader and spent a great deal of his time translating theological resources for the Arab church. Since early 2012, the group of young professionals and college students that he had been meeting with for Bible study had transformed into a church. Although this fledgling church was left without a leader, there are three mature young men who have stepped into the leadership role. By their own confession, these men are now clinging to God in dependence, rather than to Hani. Walid B. has continued to minister to and encourage this group of Egyptians in Cairo and has been used by the Lord to help them in many ways. Walid continues to seek the Lord’s will regarding how he might be used to further strengthen the Egyptian church.
In Turkey, we have continued to assist our indigenous partners and their thriving churches in any way possible. In this past year, they jointly initiated two major evangelistic endeavors.
The first is a “New Life Meeting” which they conduct on a weekly basis. Ester P. is the leader of this ministry. He and his wife spend most of their time on the nearby college campuses, engaging Turkish students with the gospel. In the course of the conversation, they invite the students to the “New Life Meeting” where an evangelistic appeal is made.
The second evangelistic endeavor is a media ministry that has proven to be very effective in a country like Turkey, where one of the greatest obstacles to exposing Muslims to the gospel is the seeker’s fear of being persecuted for even inquiring about Christianity. The primary goal of this media ministry is to make Christian resources available through the internet so that they can be accessed anonymously by people seeking to know the truth. To complement these evangelistic endeavors, HeartCry provided $10,000 to purchase complete Turkish Bibles. This has enabled the participating churches to give Bibles free of cost to each Muslim who shows a genuine interest in reading the Scriptures.
In 2012, we began supporting men in Jordan who are zealous about reaching their fellow Arabs with the gospel. The first is Dr. Andrew, whom I met about two years ago through e-mail and then met him in person in the middle of 2011. After seeing the work that he was doing among his people, we committed to working with him in the early months of 2012. Dr. Andrew continues his evangelistic work among Muslims and has seen a great deal of fruit from his efforts.
Through Dr. Andrew’s recommendation, HeartCry also began working with two other men who are evangelists and church planters. One of these men, Ghazi A., has faced a great deal of persecution for his work in a Bedouin village. The region where this village is located is populated by radical Islamic Sulafis. These men have threatened Ghazi’s life, attempted to rape one of his coworkers, and stole the 4 x 4 that he used to access the remote Bedouin in the desert. In spite of severe persecution, Ghazi holds fast, but he is in great need of prayer.
The other man now supported by HeartCry is Mahrus B. He is a church planter that has been used of the Lord to establish eight church plants over the last fifteen years. He is a faithful man, characterized by godly wisdom and a vibrant prayer life. Presently, he is serving in a church plant that he began earlier this year and is in need of our prayers.
Lastly, we began helping a church plant on a monthly basis with the rent of their meeting space. This church was initially planted by Dr. Andrew a few years ago, and it is one of the most vibrant churches in the Middle East that I have seen. This is especially wonderful in light of the fact that it exists in the midst of an area of fundamental Islamists.
Here at HeartCry, we recognize that all the plans of men are subject to the providence of God. Nevertheless, we must seek God’s wisdom and take a course for this new year. In the following section, a few of the desires we have for the work are listed.
First, Walid B. from Lebanon is praying about the possibility of moving to Egypt. Due to a lull in the work in Lebanon and the numerous open doors for work in Egypt, Walid is heavily leaning towards this course. Secondly, the Egyptian leadership of the Southern Baptists in Egypt has asked HeartCry to begin training their pastors. Walid and I are in the process of working out the details of this training, and we are in great need of prayer for this opportunity. Thirdly, we will continue working with the young church plant in Cairo that it might be strengthened and persevere as a light among the people. There is a great deal of potential for these men to be mightily used of the Lord, yet the enemy is already at work to sow discord among them.
We continue to pray about the ways in which we can help strengthen the church in Jordan. In speaking with Dr. Andrew, we discovered one of the greatest needs is for solid teaching through both conferences and literature. In 2012, I began teaching on the doctrine of God to a group of Jordanians. In this new year, Dr. Andrew will lead this same group through an Arabic version of Paul Washer’s workbook, The One True God.
There are indigenous missionaries supported by HeartCry whose names and places of ministry cannot be publicized. These men are in constant need of our prayers. In the later part of 2013, if everything progresses as planned, HeartCry will help send an Egyptian missionary to a difficult closed country on the Arabian Peninsula. There, he will serve the underground churches with the hope of seeing more added to their numbers and seeing other churches planted.
In 2012, we started a translation project for the purpose of getting as many theological resources into the languages of Middle Easterners as possible. For the Arab church, we have finished the 1689 London Baptist Confession, A Puritan Catechism, and a tract on the gospel. We have also begun the translation of Justification and Regeneration by Charles Leiter, as well as The One True God by Paul Washer. Once these books are finished, we will begin the translation of Brother Washer’s newest book The Gospel’s Power and Message. For the Turkish church, our partners are continuing to translate rich theological books and articles. The present work being translated is Michael Horton’s, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way.