God, as redeemer of all things, has brought about a greater openness to the gospel since the Arab Spring began in 2011. Due to this, workers in the region have been navigating the changing mindsets of the people of the majority religion in the region. The challenge now is to understand this evolving culture as it relates to spreading of the gospel.
Worker John* shares his thoughts on what sparked the Arab Spring:
“With the advent of the internet (and the breakdown of the ability of governments to control it), for the first time people are thinking outside of these very narrow paradigms that they were raised with. A whole youth movement that had been exposed to other ways of thinking decided they really didn’t like an authoritarian government. They wanted to throw it off. But likewise, you’ve got the same dynamic with an element of the population. They’re saying, “We don’t really like an authoritarian religion, either, that is saying to us, ‘You’re not allowed to ask serious questions about life, the world, what does this mean. You just have to swallow everything whole and take it.’”
As workers are seeing, people are quite responsive to this new freedom of thinking. Arab Muslims all over the Arab world are encountering Christ with a more open mindset than ever before. These encounters are so compelling; they invite their neighbors to learn about Christ as well, a process of discipling to faith. The gospel spreads as they discover it can fit within their new worldview. Discipling of disciples has become organic in the region.
Matt*, a worker in the region, tells a story of a friend of his:
“… a guy that we’ve always felt was a person of peace. He’s working alongside these other believers in an initiative we are involved with. And the way we were talking, it was just so natural to talk about kingdom things. There wasn’t any pushback or any discomfort. Those kinds of things are exciting to me: to see the kingdom is coming and it’s coming in a very natural way and producing disciples in a different way. But, it’s producing the same results… people who at some point in time realize ‘I believe in Jesus’ and their lives are being changed and they are in the kingdom. They take on this quality… a disciple who reproduces himself in others.”
Traditionally, a worker seeks out an individual who, at some point, proclaims their belief in Christ and is then discipled. Now, in the Arab world, this paradigm is also shifting. Workers meet with groups of people to disciple them after which a decision is made for Christ. “And the strength of it is, as they come into the kingdom, they’ve already got a peer group with them that just became the kernel of fellowship,” says John.
“It’s very different from the old approach of go out and share the four spiritual laws, try to find someone that will pray, receive Jesus, and then you start your follow up plans.”
The Arab world is shifting in great ways. Workers can more freely discuss Christ, and groups of people are making decisions to follow him. These are exciting times for the Kingdom of God and our Arab friends.
*Names have been changed for security.
Would you like to give to support the leadership training, church planting and other projects in this area of the world?