Editor’s note: This is the seventh post in a 10-part series that highlights information found in IMB’s Annual Statistical Report. The report is based on 2020 research data. A full copy of the report is available at imb.org/asr.
STORIES FROM THE FIELD — NORTHERN AFRICAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN PEOPLES
Majeed*, a Syrian refugee living in Northern Africa and the Middle East, was the first in his family to follow Christ. After leading many family members to follow, Majeed still faithfully shares with friends and others in his community. Last year when Majeed asked a Christian worker if a seeking friend could come to their regular Bible study, the worker encouraged Majeed to be the one to share the stories they were studying with his friend. Through this process, the seeking friend eventually came to faith. Recently, as the two men studied the Bible together, a third unbelieving man joined them and the new brother boldly shared about Jesus, his Savior.
Healthy Church Formation
Over the past six months, many families have been provided with much needed food aid. Through this access, Christian workers began meeting with ten families and groups to study the Word together. Some are believers who have never been discipled and others are hearing the Word for the first time. The groups study the Word together in simple ways they can use themselves or in other groups. Each group is encouraged to invite friends and family. The desire is to see a Biblical example of multiplying churches being planted and reproduced.
The main challenge to church formation in the Middle East is rooted in the cultural, but unbiblical, understanding of what leadership means. The leadership model of a suffering servant or a gentle and humble leader stands in opposition to the tribal culture, which typically involves using position and power for personal gain or security. Some church leaders in the region have stopped using the word “leader” and have replaced it with “shepherd” in order to communicate a more accurate picture of Biblical leadership. Those leaders have also begun to formulate a leadership discipleship set that they hope will impact how new and old shepherds alike are serving and helping form new churches.
*Names changed for security
All data, except for active field personnel and unreached people group counts, reflects information from the 2020 Data-Year Annual Statistical Report (IMB).