Nile was part of a team who started an online ministry in 2015 to reach Muslims and provide thought provoking content to explore faith and truth. They’ve discovered that a great deal of Muslim users have many questions and are extremely open to it.
With the rippling Covid-19 effects and people being advised to stay home, online connections have dramatically increased. We can see waves of people flocking to online communities and content.
We know that many people cope with pain, stress and hardship by turning to vices, and often developing into addictions. Online pornography addiction being a major plague, and extremely common among online users. Particularly, in these honour-shame cultures, Arab users don’t tend to talk about it. Last year, this online ministry launched two programs to offer help in battling porn addiction and saw almost 30,000 users register. Each subscriber would receive daily updates to help with recovery. Working in partnership with a recovery ministry, they developed a 4-month online group-based program. Easily, over a thousand users registered for this program. Presently, some of the mentors that help in the program are recovered graduates. Due to the high demand, it has been challenging to have enough mentors. Given how accessible the internet is, and how easy it is to look for things, addiction to pornography has become prevalent. Porn addiction very easily infects a person. The damage it does to the soul, mind, and relationships can destroy nations. We need to pray for the many who are seeking help, those with no access to physical resources to find recovery, and those who have tasted freedom to lead others into it.
This online ministry has also developed some social media virtual characters to relate to and connect with people. Though they are animated characters, they have found a large following. One of the characters is named Nour (“Light” in Arabic). She is a fictitious 18-year old Christian with hundreds of followers, most of whom are girls of the same age. Nour interacts with her followers and receives many messages. One follower wrote a private message describing Nour, “like mom, whom I love to talk with because she cares”, and “like a sister who can give advice. Nour is a sweet friend in my life.”
Please pray for the ministry team who create weekly stories and content. Please also pray for the team of same-age girls who need to correspond with the followers on Instagram in a way that can create kingdom influences for this generation.
Another online character that was created is Zein. He is a 22-year old Muslim. In each of 7 short films, he addresses a fallacy in his thinking regarding his faith. In these short 3-minute animated films, Zein challenges old habits that hinder many Muslims in rethinking their inherited religion. We need prayer for the production team to be able to finish these media projects for the 800,000+ fans on Facebook. We also need prayer for the team managing this ministry as there is some leadership transition happening this year.
The current unusual time we have has brought unique opportunities to our online ministry. Though physical distancing is advised for all, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in online usage. We recently had over 15,000 Bible App downloads in two countries in North Africa!
In our ministry back in January, we received 2,600 private messages, 17,600 post comments, and 2.7 million engagements on our Facebook presence from Arabs in the Arab region. With more time spent online in March, we received 5,500 private messages, 24,000 post comments, and received 6.1 million engagements. These numbers may not necessarily mean big change, but they are indicating to us, that the interest in exploring more is growing. It really is unique that God has allowed these opportunities for online engagement to grow and develop during this situation. Whether online or in-person, we pray that more would respond and come to Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Nile* is an Interserve Partner, based in North Africa.
*Names have been changed.