As I look back over the last few years of working closely with church planters and evangelists in the Middle East, my mind is continually directed to God’s promises in Scripture which He will bring to pass concerning His people. Some of the things that I have seen and heard will forever be etched in my mind: meeting with small house fellowships where conversion to Christ is illegal … seeing thriving groups of persecuted Christians … eating with Christians that look impoverished by Western standards, yet gladly serve you their best. In all of these situations, these Christians’ hearts and lives contain a wealth of joy that is painfully absent in the materialism of the West. They are trophies of grace and demonstrations of God’s enduring help to all who hope in Him and call upon His name.
In the month of June, I have been privileged to be able to spend time with such believers. By the time you read this, Pastor Charles Leiter and I will have spent almost two weeks in Egypt teaching and training four groups of pastors, ranging from the very north of the country down to an agricultural region along the Nile in Upper Egypt. Brother Charles will have taught on justification and regeneration, and I will have taught through the book of 2 Timothy. Though HeartCry does not formally support all of these men, it is my hope that the Lord would continue opening doors in Egypt to impact the church for the sake of the Gospel.
The last time I visited Egypt and spent time with Samuel, our Egyptian partner, I was able to witness a glimpse of what the Lord was doing in his fellowship. Fourteen or fifteen of us squeezed into a borrowed van and headed for the nearest body of water. That evening, as the sun was setting over the sea, seven Christians from various backgrounds were baptized, professing Christ as their Lord and Savior. Pastor Walid from Lebanon assisted Samuel with the baptisms and ended up accidentally baptizing himself! Remember to pray for Walid’s health and his future involvement with the churches in Egypt. He senses that the Lord may have him work there on a more consistent basis.
Furthermore, through our partnership with Dr. Andrew in an undisclosed country in the Middle East, we are going to send an Egyptian church planter to another undisclosed location in the Arabian Peninsula. This needs a great deal of prayer, simply due to the security concerns.
Regarding Dr. Andrew, the work in his country is going exceptionally well. The Lord is continuing to use him and his partners for the strengthening of the Arab church. Dr. Andrew is working with another HeartCry partner, Mahrus B. in the southern region of a large city. At the end of May, they were able to baptize eleven new Christians, six of which are from a Muslim background. These six former Muslims all came to faith during the month of February, a time period in which Dr. Andrew said that in all his years of ministry, he has never seen the Lord ripen this much Gospel fruit. At the end of June, I will have briefly seen Dr. Andrew and his new wife in their country and enjoyed the privilege of fellowshipping and praying with them.
Lastly, our brothers in Turkey are doing well, in spite of the protests and political unrest in the country. They are in great need of our prayers. Our relationship will be changing somewhat with the churches in Turkey over the next few months; but we hope to continue supporting Gospel, theological, and translation projects for the group of churches that we’ve been working with for the last few years. They are an exceptional group of believers and will continue to be in need of the prayers of God’s people. I recently received a list of twenty-four solid theological resources that have been translated into Turkish with the help of HeartCry funds. These resources will continue to be a great aid in the building up of the Turkish church in its knowledge of the Scriptures.
Pray for Fikret, as well, as he deals with charges from the Turkish government of “criticizing the state.” He spoke out on an online newspaper against a judge that had passed an unjust verdict against a handicapped young man. The state has charged him and sentenced him to three years of prison. The sentence is now in the process of being appealed, and it will be tried again with certain “new laws” in mind. The content of these new laws is unknown to Fikret at this point, and he is unsure of whether or not these changes will help his case. Furthermore, Fikret also just found out that the charges should have never come about in the first place. They have been pushed through, though, by an anti-Christian governmental region of Turkey whose underlying motive has been to suppress Fikret’s public Gospel efforts. Please earnestly pray.