Middle East/North Africa (MNN) — Last year, believers worldwide stayed connected with their home groups and church fellowships by going online, even though COVID-19 restrictions kept them physically apart.
The online church provides more than convenience in the Middle East and North Africa. Sometimes, it saves lives. “I think about the moms who’ve come to faith, and they’re married to someone who is a non-Christian,” MENA Leadership Center (MLC) CEO Jennifer Murff says.
“It’s very dangerous for them and their children to just step into a local church.”
Following Jesus leads to a death sentence in many MENA countries. “Local churches need a safety outlet, which is the digital church,” Murff says.
“People who come to faith, whether it’s through evangelism, dreams or visions, or however God meets them, [can] step into discipleship in a safe way that doesn’t put their family at risk.”
How to “do church” online
MENA Leadership Center equips Christian leaders throughout the Middle East North Africa region. More about that here. Training and resources from MLC help Gospel workers set up and grow their online churches.
“In many countries in the MENA, it’s illegal to change your religion. The digital church provides an outlet [where] they (new believers) can continue to grow in their faith and get discipled until they can step into a physical location,” Murff says.
MLC training helps leaders understand all aspects of the online church.
“There is the technical element of the digital church: lighting, setup. But what’s the theological framework of an online church? How do you marry someone?” Murff says. She points to recent training in Iraq as one example of capacity-building.
Digital fellowships can also help church planters in the region. “Church planters use the online church to micro-target where people are coming from, and then they’re able to use that data to plant churches physically,” Murff says.
Now that you know, how will you respond? Prayer is a natural place to start. Use the prompts listed alongside this report to guide your intercession.
If the Lord leads you to financial involvement, learn how to sponsor a MENA leader here.
Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Sergey Zolkin/Unsplash.