Foursquare Missions International (FMI) area missionary to West/Central Africa and Francophone Nations, Dan (full name withheld for security reasons), has appealed for prayer regarding unprecedented opportunities for sharing the gospel that are opening up in the wake of ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
“There are open windows … people’s lives are in the balance,” reports Dan on returning from a ministry scouting trip to a country in the region he can’t identify because of security concerns for Christians there. “It is a dangerous situation, but there is an openness among the people.”
The seasoned FMI leader made his first-ever journey to the unnamed nation as consultant to a small group of businessmen from the U.S. They were making an exploratory visit to their families’ homeland to see whether there might be opportunities for humanitarian work as well as spiritual ministry.
During seven days in the country, the group got to visit some of the tent cities that have become home to some of the many thousands displaced by the continuing conflict in Syria. They were able to help with distribution of supplies brought in by a Christian relief organization.
“We found sympathetic families who opened up their tents―square plastic homes, really—where we were able to share our testimonies,” Dan shares. Speaking in Arabic through interpreters, “we kept our sharing simple, and used some stories from the Bible.”
Through connections with church leaders in the area, Dan also had the chance to speak at a meeting in a local church near to the camps that was attended by many of those living in the temporary accommodations.
“I gave a clear explanation of the Good News, and many Syrian refugees, many of whom had never heard of Jesus—at least, not like I explained—responded and prayed to become followers of Isa [Jesus in Arabic],” Dan recalls. “They were mostly Muslim women and their children. Forty or 50 in total responded.”
Dan and his companions referred those who responded to the care of local pastors, aware of the potential persecution they may face for their decision.
“It could be very difficult for them ever to return to Syria,” he adds. “But they fear no one anymore; they have been collateral damage in so many people’s agendas that I found in them a pretty realistic search for true meaning.”
Dan credits part of the people’s openness to the presence of his 21-year-old daughter, who was a member of the visiting team. “She was a great door-opener to the many women and children, more than all of us men.”
He was especially touched by the positive spirit and resilient attitude of one of the young girls they met, Fatima. About 11, she was “a lively, vivacious, rambunctious girl growing up in a refugee camp,” Dan says. “She reached out so much more than the other children.”
Returning from his visit, Dan—who also serves as national leader of The Foursquare Church in France—is looking for ways that Foursquare may connect with other organizations and churches to continue working in the country. That might include helping some of the migrant workers unable to return to their country of origin because of the unrest.
Giving to Foursquare’s Global Mission Fund will enable Foursquare representatives to be involved as “the feet and the voice to these people, as God provides open doors of favor for us to walk through,” Dan says. “The end result may not be ‘traditional churches’ as we might like to see, but we will see many hear and receive the Lord of life.”
Dan also appeals for prayer “for open doors, wisdom, boldness, discernment for those on the frontlines,” and for collaborations and alliances with other groups. “Pray also that indigenous leaders will be raised up and filled with the Holy Spirit to boldly and wisely reach their people.”
The Foursquare visitors’ willingness to go into difficult circumstances opened doors among those they met, he observes.
“They are nomads—often unwelcome, and with so little control over events that affect them,” Dan explains. “The fact that we decided to go see them said a lot. People’s lives are so in the balance there that when they are approached in the right way, they are willing to listen.”