Hope for the Middle East !
Editor’s Note: Every Home for Christ believes that the Great Commission of Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19-20—in which the Lord issues the clarion call to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…”—applies to all nations, regardless of danger or government restriction.
Through EHC’s unique ministry in what we call “Creative Access” nations, we are working with courageous believers worldwide who are determined to share Christ’s offer of salvation, even amid the threat of death in places where Christians endure horrible persecution, imprisonment, harassment and physical harm solely because of their faith.
We call these countries “Creative Access” because the EHC pioneer missionaries who are actively working under such regimes are forced to find innovative ways to share their faith and disciple new believers under extremely hostile circumstances. To say that the task of sharing the Gospel is dangerous is an understatement.
Despite the risk, inspiring stories continue to pour in from restricted countries closed to evangelism but where God is honoring the faith of EHC workers by drawing thousands to salvation through Jesus Christ. It has become obvious that some of the most unfriendly areas also provide some of the most fertile grounds for evangelism!
The following four pages will introduce you to some of those stories. Because lives are in danger, we must be careful what we say. Names have been changed for security purposes.
During the past year, the Muslim world has experienced an unprecedented series of uprisings sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East. Unrest began in Tunisia in December, 2010, with protests against corruption, inflation and unemployment.
Because of the successful outcomes of Tunisia’s protests, turmoil began to spread to the neighboring North African nations of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania and Morocco and then into the Middle Eastern nations of Jordan, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
A widespread discontent with authoritarian rule,governmental corruption, human rights violations, and rising unemployment and poverty rates in these nations has pushed hundreds of thousands of citizens to protest in favor of democracy, fair elections, and regime changes.
The revolt against these governments has brought about reform in some nations in the form of increased wages and other economic concessions.
In others, however—most notably in Libya, Syria and Egypt—governments have responded with force to suppress uprisings and realign their power. In this atmosphere of chaos and desperation, Every Home for Christ has launched new campaigns to bring the light of the Gospel to two nations in The Middle East in 2012 to join the other works already established.
Like other volatile areas where EHC has started campaigns, these nations are considered Creative Access. Despite the extreme risks involved in home-to-home evangelism in Muslimdominated nations, Tom Rios, EHC’s Regional Director for the Middle East, has identified a National Director for each of the two nations who believes that the task of taking the Gospel to every home can be done.
The campaigns in these nations follow EHC’s standard method of systematic home-to-home evangelism. Workers will visit homes with gospel literature for adults and children and provide an address for inquirers to obtain further follow-up discipleship materials.
The EHC vision was born in the heart of Tom Rios the very same day that he gave his heart to the Lord at the age of 15. Convinced by God’s Word that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus Christ, Tom decided that the best way to let every person on earth know about Jesus is to visit every family, home by home.
Tom and his teams have been doing that for several years now. His heart is in developing strategies and finding resources to reach every home in Middle Eastern countries. When seeking to open a new work in a Middle Eastern nation, Tom shares the EHC vision with evangelical leaders within that nation in order to find a “crazy person” to lead the work who is passionate about reaching every home with the Gospel and will stop at nothing to see the Great Commission accomplished. Tom quotes Jesus, who said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). “It is necessary,” explains Tom, “to make first things first. It’s a matter of priorities in life. Our priority is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible, in as many places as possible, in the shortest time possible!” Recently, Tom visited one of these countries in which EHC works. He shares, “The EHC team had wanted me to come for many months. When I did, it was very rewarding as I witnessed the grace of God abounding in many changed lives, and this in a country where you wouldn’t think it would happen.
Despite the risk, the Gospel is being proclaimed in these places and many are accepting Christ as Savior. I recently baptized a group of people with pure joy shining on their faces as they testified how Jesus had become their Lord and Savior. “Being a new convert in these nations often comes at a high price. Several people have beenforced to relocate in order to avoid persecution, even death, at the hands of their own family members.
They’ve had to adjust to a new environment and find new jobs, all in order to worship Christ without the threat of physical harm.”
Tom has preached in a good number of churches in these nations that are the fruit of the EHC ministry. These meetings are often packed with people and can have hundreds of members who are bold in their witness. Some even have loudspeakers proclaiming the Gospel that can be heard outside the homes!
The last home in which Tom preached had its meeting on the terrace, in the open air. The meeting went on into the night. Tom says, “After preaching, I left and could hear them continuing to sing and praise the Lord. It was dark. I could hardly see and had to be taken by the hand to reach my vehicle. Suddenly, a boy of about 11 appeared and asked, ‘Pastor? Please, would you pray for me?’ His request moved me deeply. I prayed for him, and he then asked, ‘Pastor? May I hug you?’ I got very emotional at his request. We hugged one another and I thanked God for the life of this boy who had come to me in the night and asked for prayer. See what God is willing to do in lives if we only answer the call to reach everyone in every nation? Let us pray for it!”
by EHC International