The Arab Spring began in 2011 with the successful uprising in Tunisia against then leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. This sparked similar anti-government protests across the Arab world.
Specialists say it has brought about significant changes, uncertainty, and instability. However, what could the aftereffects look like through spiritual eyes? To find out, we asked some of our workers how God has been flooding this region with Living Water since the Arab Spring started.
“Historically, there are a number of factors that we have seen that tend to make areas more…to make the soil more receptive,” says worker D.G. “One of them is when there has been very intense Muslim on Muslim violence, it tends to create greater openness. Another one is when you’ve seen an ethnic minority that has been severely persecuted/oppressed by a Muslim majority people, within that ethnic minority you find increased openness. When there is free-flow of communication to the outside world, which is happening through the internet, satellite, television, that creates a greater openness. When you’ve had a somewhat open, free, secular Muslim society that suddenly finds itself under a much more repressive, fundamentalist government, it creates more openness.”
The intersection of several different factors divinely came together, which has caused both daily life and ministry to change. “People feel a lot more freedom and are… searching more and are asking and getting information,” says worker B.S. “It’s opened up a lot more opportunity for people who are doing follow up and people who are doing programming within the country. Generally, people are less fearful going to meet without the same kinds of looking over their shoulders.” The level of curiosity has grown around the Arab world to knowing more about Christ.
One way this new curiosity has manifested itself is through powerful prayer movements throughout the region. In one country alone there are over three separate prayer houses set up which are being used by local Arabs. “There was one particular case,” says worker, B.S., “a national who has as a part of his house a permanent room of prayer… a lighthouse.” People in the region are coming together to pray to God in ways that could not have been possible before. Their desire to seek God has increased and because of new openness around the Arab world, they can more freely fulfill this desire in prayer.
Worker B.S. had a man from the region visit his home. Deciding to spend time in prayer together, this man told of his experience in his country. “Usually, we take two hours [to pray] and a lot of times those two hours are hard work,” B.S.’ friend explains. “It’s persevering. It’s pushing through when you don’t feel anything, just seek the Lord and pursue him. After two hours, normally, you feel like you are on top of a wave. And then the wave is breaking. And then it’s not work anymore, you just ride the wave, and you feel the presence of God. And you feel like God is hearing and responding. Prayer becomes just fun and something that we just enjoy and continue to go with the wave.” The stream of Living Water has poured into the prayer lives of Arabs in the region. These prayer warriors spend unprecedented hours at the foot of the Throne of God. OC workers in the region are convinced a movement to Christ will be birthed.
Not only are people spending significant time in prayer, Arabs are training other Arabs in prayer. Worker D.G.’s friend leads a prayer house in the region who trains others in how to spend extended time in prayer. “He brings people in for a weekend,” says D.G. “These are young people that he’s forming and discipling. And he’ll bring them in for a weekend or an extended weekend. Prayer will be one of the main activities and focuses.” They spend hours praying together over the course of the weekend, as a way to learn how to build up to more easily pray for hours.
Watching these great numbers of people praying has encouraged OC International workers throughout the region. Throughout history, movements to Christ have been born out of deep prayer. “The catalyst for this [prayer movement has been] the persons of peace praying at least three hours a day,” says B.S. “Others haven’t emphasized prayer as much, but that’s the first on the list. One of the key elements of movements to Christ, there’s always prayer, and the key person is spending time praying.”
The aftereffects of the Arab Spring have created an atmosphere for greater prayer, which mobilizes people coming to Christ. These are uncertain yet exciting times for the region. It is often on bended knee that we see the wonderful work of God in our world.