Report from Middle Eastern Conference in Turkey

Recently coming back from an annual Middle Eastern conference in Turkey where we, Israeli and Arab leaders from the land, were joined by our fellow brothers from all over the Middle East for an amazing time of reconciliation, fellowship, sharing, worship, testimonies and much prayer.

What an anointed and encouraging time together, and we also had the opportunity to edify one another, especially in light of the difficult security situation that our region is continuously facing.

We heard reports and updates on what is happening with believers in countries like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Sudan, Azerbaijan, etc. There are many challenges and difficulties, but nevertheless God is moving mightily in the Middle East, something the mainstream media will never mention while speaking about the ongoing wars and conflict our region is plagued with.

 

One of the more powerful testimonies came from Algiers where for the first time in modern history evangelical church was legalized! Our brothers from Algiers testified how powerfully God had answered all the prayers from last year’s conference.

Now over 150 people received the Lord and are going to be baptized. It has been such a difficult situation in Algiers for some many years, so much bloodshed. For the past 10 years there has been so much bloodshed, 250,000 people were killed, among them thousands of believers.

Please keep our amazing brothers in Algiers in your prayers, for peace in their country and open doors to preach the gospel.

 

Our fellow brothers and sisters in Tunis are really facing hard times; they are being constantly persecuted for their faith and cast out from the society if they are no longer Muslim. A new law came out threatening with jail those who convert others into another religion. Despite of everything, people are hungry to know more. They come to church, hear praise and worship, ask for a bible and don’t want to leave.

They started 20 small churches in Tunis, as well as a bible school, and asked for our prayers. Their goal is to help distribute bibles to every home.

 

Eritrea has always been mainly a Christian country, with 70% of the population Christian and 30% Muslim. Leaders and government started heavily persecuting the Christian population, killing and imprisoning people for their faith. Church has gone underground, and Christians who are caught and imprisoned and put into large containers in the blazing hot sun, without any water. When they are finally fed, it’s usually rotten outdated dirty food and contaminated water. Over 2500 believers are now kept in prison in Eritrea and there is no freedom of faith in the country. Yet despite it all, our wonderful brothers were testifying to church growth. God is adding to His church in the midst of terrible circumstances.

 

The situation in Syria is really terrible. We’ve all seen the images in the news, but it’s hard to comprehend the real scale of the devastation. Since the war broke out, more than 150,000 people have been killed and over 4 million have become refugees, displaced from their home and their land. A dear Syrian pastor Mustafa testified about many of the brothers being in prison for their faith and couldn’t attend the conference. He himself comes from one of the dangerous places in Syria right now. He literally had to go through a war zone, risking his life to get to Turkey and join us at the conference.

Again, our God’s light only shines brighter in the midst of great darkness, and despite the terrible circumstances, Mustafa shared about starting 51 home churches! Because of the situation in Syria, large church gatherings or church buildings bringing people together are out of the question, their only option is meeting at homes. And God has really brought an increase to them, multiplying their home churches and believers praising Him while war is raging all around.

God is working powerfully among the Muslims in Syria and many are turning to Jesus, with testimonies of salvations nothing short of miraculous.

 

Ever since the war in Iraq ended, U.S. troops and all coalition forces leaving the country, situation has been quite hopeless. The country is destroyed and demolished, not just by war, but by ongoing terrorist attacks that have claimed the lives of 10,000 in the past year in Baghdad alone!

People have to live with power outages as a regular thing. They can go for days and weeks without light and it is now considered normal, even though we couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be without electricity or light. Whole cities completely darkened.

Our Iraqi brothers testified to an amazing opportunity to preach the gospel now that the government is busy fighting terrorists and opposition, they don’t have time to persecute Christians.

 

Turkey is known for its more liberal and open approach to other faiths, and despite the supposed freedom of religion, there’s still the smallest percentage of Christians in relations to its population than any other Middle Eastern country, including Israel.

Now imagine, Turkey that was once the center of Christianity, where all the apostles lived, the home of the seven churches of Asia from the book of Revelations, now has the lowest percentage of Christians, even less than Israel.

It’s a beautiful country that doesn’t resemble any Middle Eastern country around her. It’s lush and green, with mountains, lakes, seas. It’s modernly built and you could easily mistake it for any European country. It’s very strategic since it borders with countries such as Iran, Iraq and Syria among others, but is considered fairly safe for Israelis to travel to and visit.

It became the perfect setting for us to meet our fellow brothers from the Middle East during these annual conferences and hear firsthand how mightily God is using them in their countries.

Keep our brothers from all over the Middle East and Africa in your prayers. They pay an extremely high price for their faith in Jesus. Hebrews 13:3, “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering…”

However we see that in the midst of great darkness, God comes to pour out his great light. Over the past few years we have heard remarkable stories and testimonies of what the Lord has been doing in Muslim countries all over the Middle East and Africa.