Encouraging the Church in the Middle East

By SIM Australia |

Rug sales in Marrakesh, Morocco. Photo Annie Spratt, Unsplash.

Middle East Christian Outreach (MECO) had workers faithfully outworking God’s missional heart for the Middle East since 1860. With a desire to be present again in the Middle East after working in the region decades earlier, SIM joined hands with MECO in 2016. SIM’s vision for the Middle East is to see a witness to Christ’s love where He is least known, disciples of Jesus expressing God’s love in their communities and Christ-centred churches fulfilling God’s mission.

The Middle East is a region that is rich in culture and history. It is a part of the world where the church has endured with great faith through many difficult times. There are currently around 50 SIM workers in the Middle East serving in seven countries, with many opportunities for more to serve least reached communities in this region.

Stephen, SIM’s Middle East Director, grew up in Lebanon as his parents served with MECO there. Before serving in his current role, Stephen worked for a ministry which supports persecuted Christians throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Despite the challenges believers can face, Stephen is encouraged by what the Lord is doing at this time and the growing hunger for the Gospel in the region.

“As I speak with church and ministry leaders in the Middle East, many say that 15 years ago, they could never have imagined the sort of openness and growth that we’re seeing now,” he shared. “There are huge challenges, but there are also great opportunities.”

The strategy of SIM in this region is to work in partnership with local churches and believers for greater effectiveness. Stephen shared, “We see our role as coming alongside and helping the church maintain a strong witness particularly among the majority communities. A key role we have is coming alongside local churches to envision them, encourage them, equip them and model a desire and passion to reach out to the lost and to see that happen by God’s grace."

In the Middle East, our workers are serving in a wide range of church and professional roles. Our people are building relationships in their communities alongside local believers. For those who are feeling God’s call to serve in the Middle East, Stephen encourages them to first identify a community that they feel the Lord has placed on their heart. “A love for the people we’re serving is actually the most important thing, rather than the job itself that we’re in,” he shared.

There are many opportunities to serve with your skills and giftings in this region. Our people are involved in doing various things, including teaching, healthcare work, professional roles, church positions and humanitarian and aid roles.

“We’re praying that more will come, particularly given that this is a key unreached part of the world,” said Stephen. “But the Lord is at work, the Holy Spirit is moving, and we would love to have more coming to join what God is doing.”

Although the context of each country in this region varies, the strategy is the same: to maintain a strong witness and to come alongside local believers and encourage the church to be active in doing what the church has been called to do!

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