Christian Youth in the Middle East Share their Lives Online
Open Doors is initiating the social media project I Share Life – Young Christians Online in the Middle East. The goal is to facilitate Christian youth from Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to use their online presence to share the love of Christ online in the Arab world. This fits into Open Doors’ mission to build the capacity of the Church in the Middle East to share its message in the region.
Starting in 2016, a group of about six teenagers will start publishing posts on their own channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube in which they witness in a personal way about how Christ works in their lives. Their hope is that these posts will inspire others to live with Him as well and start sharing their stories.
Open Doors supports I Share Life by providing equipment and training for the youth involved and also by offering them a chance to grow in faith as well. According to Alex*, an Open Doors worker involved in the project, two coaches will be meeting the teens regularly and will join them in a discipleship journey. “That is really one of the strong points of this project,” says Alex.
Recently, the kickoff for I Share Life took place in a village in the Middle East with Christian youth originating from Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon participating. After reading the Bible and praying together, they thought about the best ways to share God’s love on social media in the Arab world.
Social media is a great platform for doing so since posts are easily “shared” and “liked” across country borders and potentially have a huge impact.
The types of stories or pictures the participating teenagers will be posting is not pre-determined. “It is very easy to speak about youth and organize all kinds of activities for them. In this project we want to put them in the driver’s seat, to facilitate and challenge them to be present with their own story,” says Alex. “They are far more spot on to the things that are relevant for their lives than we are.”
After discussing several possibilities for a mission statement, the youth involved in the kickoff decided to formulate their vision in terms of ‘creating hope’, ‘speaking about God’, and ‘sharing life online’.
Soon they will be posting their first I Share Life posts on their own social media. As a first step they all are thinking of one person they know that they want to show God’s love to. “We will start by focusing on this person that is close to our hearts and then grow from there,” says Seif*, one of the youth present. “I chose to focus on one of my relatives in Syria. The only way for me to stay connected with them is through Facebook and WhatsApp.’’
After starting the project, the teenagers and their coaches will monitor the posts and the responses to see what lessons can be drawn for the future.
* Names changed for security reasons