Mission Focus: North Africa

Primarily all of the North African nations are classified as “restricted” to Christianity, a few are even classified as “hostile” toward Christians with some nations progressing toward such hostility due to Islamic jihad, civil wars, and outright barbarism.  A collective survey of North Africa yields a concentration of 82.9% Muslim, 13.9% Christian, and the remaining 3.2% consisting of indigenous religions and animism.*

Signet Ring recently contacted “Beth” and inquired of both her evangelistic outreach and status in her country of service.  We are truly thankful to have disciples of her caliber spreading the Gospel in places where it is most urgent.

Beth started following Jesus early in life and by the time she was in her teens she knew
she wanted to share Christ with the orphans and the destitute in lands that have yet to be reached with the Gospel.  Beth is currently living in North Africa learning the language and working with street boys’ centers, teaching art and serving as needed.  She states that “It’s a crazy life and there are hard days, but it’s such a gift.  I can’t believe I get to live here!”

For the sake of sensitivity and security, some specifics have been altered.  [As of early 2013 the safety of Beth and those with whom she works and lives (in her country of service) has been threatened.  Please pray for her protection and strength to fulfill Jesus’ call on her life wherever He leads her.]

  1. How did God lead you into this mission work and what is your role in the ministry?

I have wanted to live in Africa since I was about 16.  I never pictured myself living in a Muslim country, but after a period of working and waiting this was missions2the door that God clearly opened, and I ran through it!  Presently I am almost
two years into my first term in North Africa.  It has been spent learning the language, building relationships, and mostly working with two street boys’ centers.  I teach them art and handicrafts, using it to build revenue for them and the centers, and I spend time trying to pour the love and attention into their lives that they are aching for.

  1. Are you able to share the Gospel and disciple people freely in your country of service?

 

No. I live in a closed Muslim country. I can speak of Christ, but any whiff of evangelization to the government will get a person kicked out of the country and/ or imprisoned. I have seen both things happen to friends and fellow workers. I speak freely of my love for Christ with friends and language teachers, as well as at the centers. But I do need to be careful, especially at the centers. There is more scrutiny lately from the government and it is illegal to do Christian teaching with the boys from Muslim backgrounds.

3. Please tell of someone whose life was impacted with the Gospel and of the change you saw in their life.

This country is still largely unreached with the Gospel. It is very much still in the “sowing of seeds” stage, if you will. There is “harvesting” going on, but that’s with workers who have been here for many, many years. I have only been here two years. That may sound like a lot, but it’s not. I have absolutely heard and seen the evidence of the Lord moving in hearts and lives here, but I have not personally led anyone to the Lord. Since so much of my time is spent at the centers, that is where I have largely seen the Lord moving.

Jesus Christ is transforming boys from the streets from drunk, glue sniffing, angry kids to boys who are happy, joyful, and doing well in school. I see them stop running away, learning to trust and receive love. I see them transition from not knowing anything of Jesus to singing songs about Him. I see graduated boys, who ten years prior were in the same place in life as the younger ones, taking the time to invest in them, loving them like brothers. These boys are walking witnesses of God’s redemptive grace. They are the future of the church here. Pray that the seeds planted in them will be spread far and wide. The impact of the Gospel can be sudden and huge, but sometimes it is a kingdom that is slowly built. That is what I have seen in my time here so far. As I, Godwilling, continue to live in this land, I long and pray to see it spread even more

4. What has been your most noticeable spiritual change since you began ministry as a missionary?

Oh goodness!  I still don’t feel spiritual enough to even carry the title of “missionary,” and I still have so much to learn.  Each season brings change.  We can always die to self more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My first year I learned a lot about God’s provision and resting in His provision for all my needs- mental, physical, emotional.  In this most recent season I have learned about courage, and that fear is a sin.  Fear is opposite of faith and trust, two essentials to a life following Jesus.There is so much I don’t know, so little in my control in this life.  Maybe I won’t get a return visa, maybe I’ll be kicked out, maybe the centers will be shut down.  Maybe I’ll be robbed again or have another house fire.  Probably I will be treated inappropriately by men… perhaps even every day this week.  But I will not fear.  No matter what comes, I will not fear.  I will speak the truth, even if my voice shakes.  I will trust in the Lord, leaving only my fear for Him and none for man. God is for me, what can man do to me?

5. What is the greatest spiritual need in your ministry?  Physical need?

There is increasing persecution against Christians.  Earlier this year a church compound where one of the boys’ centers I work with was attacked.  Destroyed.  Christians have a great deal of uncertainty about the future.  Even the futures of our street boys’ centers are not certain.  So the greatest spiritual need is prayers for protection and peace.  The physical need is for believers to simply be in country, but more so to be a good witness even under pressure, lending surety to those around them.  Many Christian “workers” here face uncertain futures about visas and such.  There is no guarantee any of us will be able to stay in the country.  There is fighting and war all over.  Racial and cultural wars, religious persecutions and genocides.  It is overwhelming, really. But we trust in the Lord Who goes before us and is over all!

   6. Please share your church experience and worship in your country of service (How are church services different or alike?).

I live in the capital city and there is an international church that has an English service.  The service is on Friday (coinciding with the Muslim holy day) and there are probably 150-200 people from all over the world that attend.  It is maybe 25% Western with a few Asians, and the remainder of people are from all over Africa.  Every week it’s like a taste of what heaven will be like.  Worship is semi-Western, but heavily African.  Though there is a pastor, he shares the pulpit often and we frequently get to hear from people all over the world.  It is a much longer service than most in the US and you never know what a service may bring, but it is a Spirit-filled place and one I am so grateful I get to attend weekly.

   7. Please describe your personal Bible study and prayer schedule in the mission field.  Is it difficult to maintain?

 I try to spend time in the Word every day.  I am usually able to.  Lately I have also been enjoying the writings of Henri Nouwen.  I spend a good deal of time during the day on foot or public transport, spending much of those times talking with God.  Journaling has been an integral part of my spiritual growth for many years.  This is how I process and slow down to listen to God.  There absolutely are occasions where I find it difficult to find time to be in the Word, and if I do, to have the concentration to glean anything from it.  There are days or weeks that I am so mentally, emotionally, and physically drained (9 months of the year here the temperature is in triple digits!) that it’s an easy thing to neglect.  I meet at least weekly with other believers for corporate prayer.  It functions as a sort of accountability as well.  It’s so important to be saturated with God’s Word if I hope to have anything to give.  Time with other, older, wiser believers has certainly been integral to my growth here.

   8. What most encourages you and what do you enjoy most in your missional work/service?

There is a deep-rooted joy and satisfaction in being here.  I feel entirely confident that this is where the Lord opened the door for me to go.  When times are rough I still absolutely want to be here.  This certainty keeps me going.  Positive encouragement from other workers about the work I’m doing with the boys is great emotional fuel as well.  The absolute best thing has been that as I have increased in language and communication ability, I get to build direct relationships.  When I feel like I am able to share life and go deeper with people, especially people that I could not be any more different from, it is altogether amazing!

*www.persecution.com/public/restrictednations.aspx

 

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