Fouad was only twelve years old when war broke out in the Middle East. Even as a child, he carried weapons to work in the militia as hate for other Middle East cultures began to breed in his spirit. “I learned to hate Palestinians. I hated Muslims. I hated Syrians. My aunt married a Syrian, and her children are Syrian. If they visited, I would leave the house; I did not want to see them. By 1984 our house had been burned twice.” Because of this violence, Fouad’s family left his home country for Cyprus and he declares, “It is there that I first encountered Arab Ministry and came to know the Lord.”
Fouad experienced a radical life change. Turning away from a life bred in violence, Fouad’s hate for Syrians and Palestinians dissolved. His spiritual healing led him to return to his home region and enter Arab Ministry himself. “The Lord healed me, so that I could begin ministering to Arabs,” Fouad shares. “The people I now help are Palestinian and Syrian.”
Receiving Church planting training from Bible League International, Fouad’s Arab Ministry was difficult. “People said we were crazy,” recalls Fouad. They said to him, “No Christian would live among those people!” But Fouad remained faithful to his calling and patiently served with other pioneer missionaries among the Muslims of his region. “We went to encourage a church there, but waited for the right time to move into church planting.”
Taking up the challenge
Arab Ministry like Fouad’s - church planting among his own people - is indeed pioneer evangelism. It is particularly challenging for foreign missionaries to enter his part of the world because of the years of study required just to learn the language and the culture. As a result, the Middle East is the least evangelized area of the world. “We have the advantage of ministering without losing that much time [for training]. We need to take up the challenge and become missionaries to our people.”
Fouad’s vision for Arab Ministry is succinctly, and powerfully, stated: “Arabs reaching Arabs!” He continues, “The Church must move in this area to raise up more people for ministry. I have nothing against Bible schools. But we just don’t have the time for everyone to do that. I want to train lay people.”
Fouad’s testimony of a life of hating Syrians and Palestinians turned to a life of serving them is a compelling one. God could have used him in ministry anywhere in the world, yet He called Fouad to Arab Ministry in his homeland. Why? “Not because of my nationality,” Fouad shares. “It’s because before the war, people said it was the gate to the Eastern world.” Fouad’s Arab Ministry is God’s gift to his country and we at the Bible League pray with him that the Lord will make it the gate to Christ for the Eastern world, too.