Not Against Flesh and Blood

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The EFCCM has a handful of staff working in Creative Access Countries (CACs). We give that classification to countries that for either political or religious reasons aren’t welcome to overtly Christian organisations. We need to protect these people by not publishing their names and their countries of service. If discovered, they face immediate ejection from their host country — at the very least. I just had a conversation the other day with one of our couples working in such an area, and what they revealed to me was rather unsettling.

Their area has seen growth of Islamic fundamentalism. For many years, the region was home to moderate, even secular Muslims. This is quickly changing. There are training camps now where Muslims are being trained in weaponry. Even moderate Muslims are starting to feel threatened. They view themselves as Islamic brethren, but the radicals do not share that sentiment. Their prevailing attitude is “If you are not also a radical, then we are not brothers.”

Furthermore there is a contingent of Muslims, apparently centred in Europe, that is scouring the internet. They are looking for Christians working amongst Muslim populations. When found, the Christians are reported to local Muslim authorities so that they can be ‘outed’ by available media channels. Recently a couple was forced out of the country when their identity was given on the front page of a local newspaper. You can imagine how that felt in the context of increased hostility and militarization.

Please pray. Our battle isn’t against flesh and blood, and yet it is obvious there are those who want to make it so. Pray for peace and safety among Christians following God’s call. Pray for temperance, and for the Lord’s hand to move strongly among those who don’t know him. The truth of Christ is the only option possible for real healing, even for those who don’t seem to be looking for it.

Middle East Outreach

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Can there be any doubt that the world’s attention is on the Middle East? It’s a hotbed of religious, political and military activity. The EFCCM has some ministry engagements within the Middle East. We need to exercise great caution; overt Christian evangelism is strictly forbidden. But needed.

I think it’s important for you to know some of what we’re up against. Muslims are offering money to impoverished Christians to convert to Islam. And sometimes it’s accepted. It’s hard to imagine that faith could be reduced to something that can be bought and sold, but there are several factors at work. From the top to the bottom, strong systems are in place that offer Muslims a place of privilege over those of other faiths in the area. For example, crimes committed against Christians aren’t as likely to be investigated or prosecuted by authorities, so violence against Christians can be carried out with relative impunity. Added to that, Christians are likely to be passed over for promotions, or even jobs. These condition exert serious pressure on Christians to convert to Islam, and some are succumbing. But some are also standing strongly for what they believe. And some Muslims are being led to question their own faith.

While the treatment of the Christian church in the Middle East (and many other places) is really an outrage, in spite of the hardships, the persecution and the systemic oppression, more people are choosing Christ than ever. They are hearing on the radio, and reading on the internet. They are asking questions by e-mail. And they are seeking answers that can only be found in Christ.

Please pray for peace and for wisdom. We do not want our ministry work to stir up antagonism and more strife. But both curious seekers and persecuted Christians need our help and support now more than ever!