Fishing Of Men With 21st Century ‘Nets’
“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”Immediately they left their nets and followed him…”
Matthew 4: 18-20
An account of a recent Open Doors traveler: The sun has set, and darkness falls over the Mediterranean Sea. Fish is just being served on plates to us; six men grouped around two joined tables with a paper tablecloth. Next to me is Labib*, a modern version of Peter and Andrew. He is fishing in North Africa for men and women ready to be caught in the nets of the Kingdom of God. I am hoping that my visit to North Africa will help me gain a better insight into what the Lord is doing in this part of the world. Labib is one of the people that God is using to go and make disciples. In North Africa, one of the biggest fishing tools is satellite television. “If I would go and preach the gospel on the streets one to one, I would reach a single person. Now working with television, I enter the living rooms and bedrooms of hundreds of thousands of people”, a program maker said earlier to me. I paid a visit to a studio where a team works daily on new Christian television programs. The work in the studio, the editing of the films and the follow-up work is supported by Open Doors. “Many Christians watch Christian TV because it isn’t always possible for them to go to church or Bible study,” the studio coordinator explained to me. “The programs strengthen the believers.” One of the church leaders in North Africa shared “Sometimes we see people not coming to church. For example, women are kept prisoners in their homes because of their Christian faith. With television, we can reach them, and they continue to grow. I also know several farmers. Because they live far from a church, they can’t go regularly, but they can watch the programs on television.” All these Christian programs show a telephone number to the viewers, hopefully prompting them to call about the program. “Last month, I had more than 1,000 calls,” Labib shares. The highest was a month later with 1,200 calls. “Sometimes it’s just a ‘beep’, a sign the caller wants me to call him back. Others call and are very straightforward: ‘I want to become a Christian- how do I do that?’ Last month, I had 13 people like this. These callers normally already made their choice while watching the TV programs.” Sometimes, the phone number turns out to be a lifeline. “One day, a man phoned. He said he was going to end his life, he just wanted the phone call to say goodbye. He said that the rope was already prepared. That man is now okay, and is regularly attending church.” From all over North Africa, we hear encouraging statistics about people finding new life in Christ after watching Christian TV and being connected with a follow up team. Recently, Mustapha Krim, President of the Protestant Church in Algeria, said: “About 70 to 80 percent of the Christians in the Algerian protestant Churches came to church through Christian television.” The fishing tools for the Kingdom of God have changed during the last decades. Nowadays, the Lord often uses TV, computers and mobile phones to have the first contact with an individual. After the meal, we had a walk along the seashore. Some ordinary fishermen sit on the stones with their rods to try to catch a sleepy fish, while Labib is fishing with his mobile phone. Labib receives some ten phone calls in the two hours I am with him. He connects two of the callers with a follow up team in one of the churches close to the place where the interested person lives. “Sometimes, the phone rings so much that I don’t even have time to speak with my fianc!” He continues with a big smile, “but she understands; she knows that I am doing the Lord’s work.” Visit our World Watch List to learn about which countries in North Africa face the greatest persecution, and how you can best be praying for and supporting them! *Names are changed and other details withheld for security.