7 Questions for Pastors in the Middle East
Muslims becoming followers of Jesus—before the war started in Syria in 2011, it rarely happened to Syrians. Five years later, upon entering a church in Lebanon or Syria, you might see new believers worshipping God with their whole hearts. God is at work in the Middle East. Seven questions about this were presented to pastors who see Syrians coming to church in Syria and Lebanon:
1. In the West, we hear of persons from Islam coming to Christ. Is this true in your city?
All pastors confirm this. “Yes, many people accept the Lord. We baptized seven after giving them a series of discipleship lessons,” one pastor says.
2. What specific challenges does this bring to your church?
Pastors say they face many challenges. For example, the question “Are these people truly believers, or are they coming to our church for other purposes?” must be answered. “Whatever their intentions are, we believe the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts,” another pastor says. “The whole church is one Body now. I would say that some seventy percent of our team involved in the ministry with the refugees are refugees themselves who have come to Christ.”
3. How are these new believers discipled, as they come from an Islamic mindset? Could you share about this?
All respond to the needs differently. One pastor disciples them one-on-one. They also mention that the new believers are secret believers. Another says they added new lessons related to their background in their discipleship program. But all have special training for the new believers.
4. How did/do your own church members respond to the newcomers?
“Our church members show love and hospitality,” explains one Syrian pastor. “They show them they are welcome and they help them find their way. We have designated people who call and invite them again to church or go visit them and build stronger relationships.”
5. Did the coming of these new people change the way you preach/teach during the service?
“Not really,” one says. “We teach and preach the Word of God regardless of who is listening. The Word of God doesn’t change. Of course, I include in my teaching special instruction to encourage these newcomers and to make them think and go back to read more and investigate the truth.”
6. Do you think this will change the church?
“I believe they will change the community,” says one of the Syrian pastors. Another says, “The church has already changed. They are becoming the majority.”
7. How can we pray specifically for these new believers?
Pray for perseverance and protection. Pray that they will stay strong in the faith and grow in their knowledge. Pray that more people will come to know the Lord. Pray for God’s protection and a change of the laws and constitution in their countries from a religious to a secular one where they can marry whoever they want and worship freely.