Tens of Thousands in the Middle East Become Facebook Friends
Throughout the Middle East many young people are searching for God or for more depth in their relationship with Him. In Europe and the USA, young people can drop into a church or call a pastor or Christian leader to ask questions; in the Middle East, the situation is considerably different. In some places there are no churches at all while in other, merely knocking at the door of a church will bring major consequences. Open Doors supports several of the TV programs aired in the Middle East that are aimed at reaching these youth without endangering them.
“Last month after the start of airing the new series ‘Connect with me,’ more than 6,000 friends joined the Facebook group, which will give us a total of 41,000 friends,” a contact from Miracle Channel says. “Connect with me” has been developed by Open Doors and Miracle Channel. “One of the important and encouraging things is the follow-up. Last month our follow-up team had several meetings with 28 youth, individually with each one of them.”
Social media like Facebook are the modern meeting places for today’s youth. They also provide a good forum for follow-up on Christian television in the Middle East. That is why Miracle Channel opened a Facebook account for the program: to give youth a space to comment on the broadcast topics. A surprisingly high number of youth, now more than 41,000, from all around the Middle East have already become friends on this page. “God is moving in tremendous ways among Arab people despite political unrest and increased persecution,” a spokesman for Miracle Channel says.
He explains that the follow-up on social media enables connection on a personal level, “listening, advising and praying with them.” As expected, many of their questions are about relationships with the opposite sex, with parents and with friends, but many are also about problems with themselves.
A 19-year-old boy commented, “Thanks for the program, for its elements and the youth in it. Many wanted me to convert to Islam,” he says. The follow-up people at Miracle Channel were able to help, “We connected with him in order to stand firm in Christ.
Another response came from an 18-year-old boy. “I have a lot of doubts about God. I am mocked at work, and it makes me feel like a failure.” Someone from Miracle Channel could talk and pray with him using social media.
A girl, 18, confided that she has loved someone for 3 years, “but my parents won’t let me marry him.” She asked for advice, and the people from the follow-up department were able to help her.
“I write songs, and I can share them now with the group,” one Facebook friend shared, while another said, “I would like to know more about the Bible.”
“Connect with me” is hosted by a group of young people who address subjects that have real relevance for teens and young adults across the Middle East. “It is an interactive program where topics from daily life are treated,” an Open Doors worker explains. “The viewers are challenged to participate in a weekly draw on Facebook, and the winners are invited to bring a friend to a Bible camp. What the viewers can do is reacting with small YouTube movies. The following week the team chooses a winner. This way creates connection with the spectators and makes them very involved.” During the next series, the competition will continue, but with a fresh twist to pique viewers interest.
Father, we praise You for the many youth around the world who are seeking You. Thank You for this new forum for spreading Your Word in places it would otherwise not have access. We pray for Christian youth who are watching and interacting on Facebook, that they will be encouraged by others and strengthened in their faith and their understanding of how to live it out in the context of their circumstances. We pray, too, for those who are searching for You in ways they do not even understand, that You might draw them into Your presence. In the name of Jesus who draws near to those who seek Him, Amen.