Feature

A Safe Place

We Will Reach People on the Move

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Most refugee families from the Middle East are crushed and broken when they come to America; they are seeking a place where they belong and people who will help them settle and adapt to life in the United States. Being Arabic, I knew that most Muslims would not enter a traditional church building, but they would go to a community center, coffee house, or Arabic gathering place. Therefore, we started the Arab-American Learning Center in Sacramento, California, to gain access to the Arab community.

Of the Muslims we encounter here, 25 to 30 percent want nothing to do with Christians. But that means 70 to 75 percent are open to the gospel. There is something in the hearts of the center’s team that is the light of Jesus, that draws people in and brings them hope. Without the center, we wouldn’t have any place to reach the Muslim community.

Yet trust is not instant; we build it stone upon stone, day after a day. Our volunteers spend hours and hours helping the refugees and tending to the big wounds. They also make phone calls, help with government forms, and deal with rent, electricity hookups, and all the small things. That builds confidence and trust so that when we share the gospel, they are open. On Easter Sunday three persons were baptized; one was a Christian already, but two were Muslims who became believers in Jesus Christ because of the love we showed them at the center.

In 2007 Wathik Al Noori lived in Baghdad with his wife and teenaged daughter. The family spent days in their apartment without food. Finally, his wife and daughter risked a trip to the local marked to get something to eat. Within minutes, Wathik heard gunfire in the street and the neighbors crying out his wife’s and daughter’s names. Wathik went down and witnessed his family’s final breath as they lay in the street. Suddenly, Wathik was struck from behind with an iron object wielded by an assailant and awoke in the hospital morgue. “I am not dead!” he cried out in despair.

After leaving the hospital, Wathik was planning revenge against the group that killed his family, seeking to satisfy the wrath that flowed from his heart. In the meantime, he emigrated from Iraq and settled in Sacramento.

Wathik was invited to attend the 2014 refugee Christmas celebration at the Arab-American Learning Center. There, he heard the true story of Christmas and the amazing love of God, who sent His only son to be born in a manger to die for our sins, so we could have hope in Christ. While getting a ride home with one of our team members, Wathik prayed with the volunteer and asked Jesus to be his Savior and Redeemer. Wathik became a committed member of the church.

On Easter morning Wathik was one of those baptized. He is not ashamed of Jesus or His Church; he is honored to be called a believer in Jesus Christ. Wathik is not seeking revenge anymore, but his heart is full of love and compassion toward his enemies.

We have a group in Sacramento that takes prayer seriously, but we do not have enough prayer people. Not focusing on prayer is a big mistake, so anything that takes place at the center in Sacramento—every project, any outreach—happens because of prayer. God is doing wonderful work.

We have received reports from the U.S. State Department that 9,000 Syrian refugees will arrive this year in America. We are looking forward to it, because the best time to reach out to refugees with the gospel and achieve good penetration into their minds and hearts is when they first come over. The first two years are essential to building a relationship that will never fade.

Arab resettlement is happening throughout the United States. The field is wide open, so now is the time to pray for the Lord to bring more laborers to plant churches among the refugees. We have a dream among the members of the Arabic-Speaking Association of the C&MA to see 70 centers in the near future all over America reaching out to Arabs.

God loves lost souls. Every lost sheep is precious to Jesus. He is searching for them because He loves them. We are Jesus. We are the ones who are supposed to go and search for them, reaching these lost souls with the compassion and the love of Christ.

Watch Raed and Edward Awabdeh at #AllianceCouncil2015 as they share the message of Christ Our Coming King.

reach

We Will Reach

While He who is “not willing that any should perish” calls us to take His loving message to everyone, the Alliance family is being called in particular to prayerfully seek to reach:

  • People on the Move: The world’s population is shifting and nations are coming to our neighborhoods. Is our church fully participating in this unprecedented opportunity to share the gospel?
  • People of All Ages: Has our church been guilty of seeing children, the disabled, the senior adult, or anyone as less important than everyone else?
  • People Lacking Access: As 4,075 peoples are still to be reached, have we joined the Alliance family in taking seriously our assignment to participate in bringing the gospel to them?

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