The isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic can help the global Church gain a deeper appreciation and sense of solidarity with these brothers and sisters in Christ. How can we find encouragement and hope from what isolated and persecuted Christians have experienced for years?
Nagi* was a devout Muslim living somewhere in the Arabian Peninsula. He observed the five obligatory prayers each day and often went to the mosque to pray between midnight and dawn. During one of these pre-dawn prayers, Nagi encountered Christ.
“After a long prayer, I laid my head on the carpet to rest and as I was drifting off, Christ spoke to me,” Nagi says. “I was startled awake, but I also heard another voice telling me, ‘Don’t think about Christ right now. You’re on the right path.’ At that point in life, I had money and was comfortable, but I was far from God.”
Nagi continued his life as a Muslim for 10 more years. Then, the building where Nagi stored the goods for his shop was destroyed in a fire, and everything burned. He grew depressed, but eventually found an online ministry and came to faith in Christ.
Initially, he was convinced that he should leave his country because he felt there was no church where he could grow spiritually, and he was afraid as a believer on his own.
However, as he searched for a way out, he met a believer online. This man also lived in the Arabian Peninsula and he introduced Nagi to another believer living in Nagi’s city. The two began to have fellowship together in a small group.
This face-to-face connection was made possible thanks to modern technology, and outreach via social media. Tamer*, an Open Doors partner working in the Arabian Peninsula, described the work of follow-up and the need for security. “One of our roles and that of our partners is to help connect believers to one another,” he says. “We make sure they have coaching and support and encourage them to start new groups. I understand that you might want to know how we do this, but because of the hostile context we work in, it’s important that the details of this process remain private.”
So, the next time you have a Zoom church meeting or pray with your small group via Google Meet, pray that God will bless these kinds of technologies in the Arabian Peninsula. Remember during this time of distance community that you are standing in solidarity with God’s people who worship this way all the time—pray for them as they grow in faith through online meetings.