MENA (MNN) — Last Saturday, November 19th was The Voice of the Martyrs, Canada’s most recent Momentum Conference. The event took place in Oakville, Canada and featured several speakers and representatives of the persecuted Church from around the world.
One of the conference speakers was Bassma Dabbour Jaballah. She was born in Tunisia and grew up in a conservative Muslim home before becoming a believer. She and her husband, Rev. Riadh, are involved in Christian media and e-learning as well as Gospel outreach to Arabic-speaking Muslims.
Dabbour Jaballah says of the Body of Christ in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), “The Church is growing, it’s actually thriving. Believe it or not, in spite of the danger, there are thousands and thousands of people coming to Christ daily. Reports from that part of the world are just uplifting and give us hope, in spite of what we hear on the news.
“But the Church is also facing persecution…. Islam is believed to be the truth, and conversion from Islam is prohibited, so you can imagine the danger for those who take the risk and make that step.”
Besides religious restrictions, Christians in these countries face very practical problems as well.
“The past Arabic Spring brought huge economic crisis with the refugees, and poverty just exploded. It did affect also the Church and the Christians…. there is a huge poverty [issue] right now and there is a need for jobs, and a job brings dignity,” explains Dabbour Jaballah.
“For Christian believers, there is a need for discipleship training and resources. For the children as well, there is a huge need. We have a number of children who are growing, and I know the Bible Society in Egypt as well as other societies in Lebanon are producing a lot of material, but it is still lacking. So this will have an impact on the seekers, because when the Christians are trained and disciples, they have a huge impact on their Muslim neighbors who are seekers.”
She encourages us to pray alongside Christians in the Middle East and North Africa.
“Pray for perseverance, that they would really be encouraged daily to remember that in the middle of all this, they are serving a great God who cares for their needs and He will provide according to His will in Christ.”
At the Momentum Conference, Dabbour Jaballah also talked about those from the Middle East and North Africa who are not Christians. She addressed a question dear to her heart: how can we love our Muslim brother and sister?
“Especially now with what’s going on in the world with the election of the president Trump in the States, there is growing fear. And I might understand the fear within other people, but I don’t find an explanation for it within our churches in North America, because the Bible reminds us that love casts out fear, and our hope is in Jesus and Jesus came to love these people.”
Dabbour Jaballah explains, “The workshop I’m involved with is [about] how to help my brothers and sisters see Muslims as an opportunity, not as a threat and love them the way Jesus would — and He did. When He died on the cross, He died for Muslims as well. Seeing so many Muslims come to Christ because of our witness to them through our love and serving them, it’s just a huge blessing. I think it’s an invitation to examine our hearts and say, ‘God, I’m willing. I’m scared, I don’t have enough knowledge, but I know that you know everything and I know that you love the Muslims. So would you help me to love them today the way that you love them?’”
Here are a few key tips Dabbour Jaballah offers on things to consider as you reach out to and love your Muslim neighbors:
“Remember, they are immigrants. There is sometimes a language barrier, there is cultural learning, there is hostility they face. Not everyone is a Jesus-follower, so even though they come with that idea that everyone in North America is Christian, that they’re coming into a Christian country, [this] is not the reality.”
She says, “This is where we come to make the difference on their lives — by loving them, assisting them, by language learning, helping them to integrate through transition as well, to mourn what they left. Some come from war zones, they were forced to leave. We should not think everyone came for the American dream or because we have what they don’t have. That is true economically, but many I work with wish they could go back home. That wasn’t their choice to come to North America, but they came because they wanted to be safe. They wanted freedom they were lacking back home.”
That’s why conferences like Momentum with Voice of the Martyrs, Canada are so important. They allow us to hear the voices of believers from other countries with different life experiences. Events like these also teach how to reach those from other countries and cultures who are not Christians.
“I invite the Body of Christ in North America to get informed, to learn more about Islam, to not just listen to some channels or the news. Get equipped and also remember we are serving a great God who loves the sinners, and we are all sinners.”