Teacher Trainer

Arab World, Administration, 1-11 months, 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 1701

A refugee school in Maadi Cairo with 250 students and 10 teachers. Not all the teachers have qualified teacher status they are mostly Sudanese teachers with some experience in South Sudan.

The post holder will coach the teachers make assessments provide curriculum guidance and set goals.

The post holder will have previous teaching experience be creative and passionate about teaching and about training teachers without official qualifications. They will be open and happy to learn in a cross-cultural environment.

Gods love overcomes fear

We live in a 4,000 year old city, along with 25 million others. Pollution fills the air like a grey soup and the economy is in a permanent struggle to keep ahead of population growth. Yet the noise and chaos brings a captivating vibrancy to the place we call home. Hanging over this society are deep divisions between rich and poor, women and men, and between Christians and Muslims resulting in brokenness, mistrust and violence. As a minority, Christians often focus on self-preservation and separate themselves from the majority Muslims.

Eight years ago, corruption, injustice, poverty and lost opportunity drove the Middle East into revolution. In the midst of this, my family was seeking God and felt called to business for transformation. We were convinced that business has the potential to impact the financial, social and spiritual aspects of people’s lives. We soon found ourselves wearing aprons, serving coffees and baking cakes for our new, tiny coffee business!

Since then, it’s been a journey of hard work, stress, miracles and joy! Our business brings together people from marginalised backgrounds and provides a safe space for training and discipleship. We are now a community where we work, learn, laugh, eat and pray together. Sounds nice? Maybe, but the journey doesn’t always feel nice. In fact, it’s REALLY HARD.

One of our team, Ash, joined us from a slum area with dreams of being an accountant. I recall his extreme discomfort when I took him for his first visit to a bank! He was brought up in an environment where violence was normal. His father beat his mother and his brother followed in his footsteps. Ash would have made a perfect drug lord. He was angry most of the time and was always ready for a fight. There would have been many fist fights with other team members if I hadn’t physically held him back.

We strive to model and operate by Godly principles including love, grace and forgiveness. This was difficult for Ash’s colleagues whom he often offended and frightened. Yet today, Ash is part of the management team of two men and two women, after insisting for a long while that business is only for men. He is now dependable and supportive of all of his colleagues. His faith has grown and it’s become normal for him to discuss matters of faith with both Christians and Muslims.

Mary is another team member from a slum area who battled with her family to get a basic education and find work against her parents’ wishes that she only prepare for marriage and children. Mary is an evangelical Christian which is unusual here and we were excited by the potential of her working with us. However, Mary’s behaviour towards her colleagues was far from salt and light. Her deep insecurities and fears poured out on her colleagues in the form of verbal abuse, bitterness and unforgiveness while showing a completely different side in our Bible studies. I was frustrated!

We came to a moment of confrontation when I was prepared to fire her. However, that same morning my wonderful wife and business partner told me that God had been speaking to her about how we should be growing in love for our team. Ouch! Love is an interesting concept. 1 John 3:16 talks about giving up our lives for our brothers and sisters. Who is our brother and sister? What does giving up our lives mean? 1 John 4:18 also tells us that there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

I suddenly realised that fear was in the way of God’s love. I was challenged to allow God’s love to remove my own fear. Only then could I really show love to Mary. Only then can I help Mary start to overcome her fears and the destructive force they were having on colleagues. It starts with me!

Striving to constantly grow in God and demonstrating His love is hard work. But we have seen enormous joy and fulfilment in seeing God’s transforming love impact lives through our business.

Jacob and his family live in the Middle East, working in business for transformation.
All names have been changed.

A barista walked into a cafe

“If more people come to know Jesus through our deaths than though our lives, then we are prepared to die, Father.”

I read this prayer in a biography when I was nine. I was struck by how radical and countercultural life in Jesus is to the world around us. Our lives are gifts not to ourselves, but to be given sacrificially for His story and His glory.
God began to water the seed of overseas mission in my heart. Through reading missionary stories, I imagined being a teacher in the depths of the African savannah, choosing education as my university degree.

But throughout my teens, biographies, novels and world events like September 11 increased my curiosity about the Middle East and Islam. Growing up in rural WA, I don’t remember meeting any Muslims or even knowing anyone who had ever stepped foot in the Middle East. Yet God began to grow this curiosity. While I was at university, I read about Brother Andrew’s ministry to Muslims and in that moment decided that I would start working towards going to the Middle East as a teacher.

But it didn’t take long into this journey to realise I did not enjoy teaching. This led to a lot of anxiety as I studied at Bible college. If I didn’t teach in the Middle East, what could I do?
But just as God had begun watering the seed of love for Muslims, He also had planted a love of coffee! I returned to my home city and started working in specialty cafes, learning the coffee business and mastering the barista’s art. I didn’t know how I could use this in the Middle East but I prayed that I would!

God heard these prayers. I found myself boarding a plane as an On Tracker to the Middle East to work for a coffee business for two years! In His strength and grace, the project aims to accomplish many things alongside providing delicious cups of coffee.

As I helped develop the barista program and its curriculum, train staff and build the team I was amazed at how God used simple things like coffee and baristas to bring people together: rich and poor, educated and uneducated, Muslim and Christian to create networks and communities that provided endless opportunities for people to see His power, glory and reconciling love. I saw Him refining and using local Christians as they showed their Muslim colleagues what it means to be a Middle Eastern Christian. I saw Muslims taking note of God working in the lives of His children. I saw them begin to have their misconceptions about Christianity dispelled and be curious about what it truly is all about. All in the everyday workings of a small business!

God has used my education and my coffee experience. If I were to go back in time to decide on a future career, I would tell myself that God doesn’t just use the ‘traditional’ missionary careers like teaching and medicine. He can use any career or trade! He gives to each of us skills, talents and passions to be used for His glory and in His story.

Ella is preparing to return to the Middle East as a long-term Partner.

Serving God without leaving home

A few weeks before my family went to live overseas for the first time, I got a phone call. The caller was an older friend whom I respected.

“Ruth”, she said to me, “I know we talk a lot about Jim’s role. But I wanted to remind you that the reason your family can go overseas is because you are behind him. If he could not rely on you as his wife and mother of his kids, then there would not be the option to go.”

It was the first time I recognised my unique position to be used as a stay-at-home mum overseas. We were heading there with a baby and toddler in tow. Usually the anticipation focussed on my husband's role, whereas mine… not so much. Let's face it, being a stay-at-home mum is not glamorous.

It didn't get any more glamorous overseas. There were still sleepless nights, tantrums and dirty nappies (to be clear: Jim also dealt with all of these – I couldn’t have done it without him!). Besides that, it is tough for kids in a new culture. They needed me close by, especially at first when the street dogs were scary, their tummies were upset and they were still getting used to having their cheeks squeezed by strangers.

But in the Middle East, there is a lot more respect for mothers than I'd experienced in Australia. To locals, I was doing a legitimate role. It was beyond their imagination that I put my children to bed before 11pm at night, or hadn't toilet trained them by 12 months old. But walking the kids to school, shopping at the market and doing my own cooking did make sense to my local friends. And that helped as we built our relationships.

Being a stay-at-home mum also enabled me to use other gifts in flexible ways. Relationship building was part of our ministry within the Interserve team. We loved having visitors and we would often have people over to share meals together because I had the time for hospitality. In the frequently stressful times of a foreign land, this mutual encouragement strengthened and refreshed us all for our ministries elsewhere.

Interserve’s vision is transformed communities. Did I transform anything through my school drop-offs and nappies and pots of spaghetti bolognaise?

Maybe the question is not what did I transform, but what was God doing though me? Like a tapestry that is not yet finished, I can only see scraps of the pattern God was creating. I do know my role contributed to helping us thrive as a family in the country. I had a part in enabling my husband to do the role God had for him. It also allowed me to pour time into building relationships with other cross-cultural workers, to support them in fulfilling their own God-given purposes. It gave me time to see the opportunities, and as the kids got older, to find my niche outside the home too.

I am no hero of the faith, but I trust God used me as a stay-at-home mum. He placed me there, made me the person I am, and gave me my role for that time.

The rest is His story.

Ruth served with her family in the Middle East for six years.
All names have been changed.

Feeling frustrated and fruitless

It is a strange relief to find that I am not the only one working cross culturally who feels it is often fruitless and profoundly frustrating.

Things never work as planned: ‘amazing potential’ always feels within reach but, because of our own intercultural incompetence and local resistance to ‘outside things’, the impact of our work never seems to reach anywhere near its potential. Culturally conditioned as I am to take at least some of my identity and worth from my success at work, it has at times been a crushing journey that has frequently tempted me to pack it in. At my worst, the crushed expectations have driven me further into workaholism, with a subtle but inherently selfish Babel-like agenda to “make a name for myself” (Gen 11:4). That at least would validate why so many people continue to so generously support us!

I have fought discouragement from fruitlessness for over 10 years and perfection-driven workaholism for over 20 years, so I wish I had read Tim Keller’s book Every Good Endeavour earlier and taken his advice that “the key is to accept fruitlessness”! This book helped me discover what hope there is for work and how I can look past the deep problems and realise God’s purpose and plan. As Keller says, it all starts with being clear on one sure fact: nothing will be put perfectly right “until the day of Christ” at the end of history (Phil 1:6; 3:12). Until then, all creation “groans” (Rom 8:22) and is subject to decay and weakness.

et all is not lost. The disappointments of cross-cultural work have given me ample opportunities to get my identity from what God has done for us and in us and to constantly check that I am not making any good thing that work might offer into an idol. There is no shortage of toil, often more than I seek or expect, but my challenge now is to be one who “find(s) satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God” (Ecc 3:13).

Keller’s idea that we view all work as cultivation was new to me: as gardeners we work to rearrange the raw material of God’s creation to help the world in general, and people in particular, thrive and flourish. His question, “How, with my existing abilities and opportunities, can I be of greatest service to other people, knowing what I do of God’s will and of human need?” has helped me focus on where to be working/gardening. I run a business here and the heart of my ‘gardening’ is to sow in peace. I’m praying for a “harvest of righteousness” (Jas 3:18)—creating the space for individuals to get right with each other and, ultimately, with God.

As I seek to work as a peacemaker, I must first use my talents as competently as possible. Even if my job is not, by the world’s (or my) standards, exciting, high paying and desirable, reframing it as fundamentally a way to love my neighbour has been a great way to find job satisfaction. My daily work is ultimately an act of worship to the God who called and equipped me, no matter how fruitless and frustrating it can get! The act of worship that God asks for in our work and everything else is to be a “living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1); as Keller says, “to be continually in the rhythm of dying to your own interest and living for God”. Please ask that all Partners serving cross culturally would “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord” (Rom 12:11).

Paul is a long-term Partner working in business in the Middle East.
Names have been changed.

On the far side of the sea

As we stopped over in Singapore on our way to live in a land we’d never seen before, I wrote in my journal a verse God had given me: “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you … Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” 2 Chronicles 20:17.

Heading to the Middle East with four kids under seven, including a baby on my hip and a toddler at my knee, there was not a lot of fighting I could do. I did, however, need to do a lot of trusting.

I remember when our six-month-old baby had a temperature of 39 degrees. We had only been there a few weeks and I had no idea who to call if the Panadol didn’t start working soon. I could barely say ‘hospital’ in Arabic. The next morning he was okay.

Three years later, however, when he needed emergency surgery to remove the coin lodged in his oesophagus, he was less than okay (and I wasn’t too crash hot either!). Thankfully, by then I knew exactly who to call. I had also become quite good at pronouncing ‘hospital’.

Another afternoon our children were playing in our friends’ yard when a protest passed the front gate. We ignored the usual shouting and drumming … until the shooting began. I bolted down the stairs roaring at our kids, “GET INSIDE NOW!” They ran inside, probably more frightened of me yelling than any gun.

Like any mother, my biggest fears always circle around my children. And I am certainly no spiritual champion when it comes to worrying! But God taught me lesson upon lesson about trusting him on that far side of the sea.

When the Arab Spring turned the Middle East upside down, God sent our family through a learning-to-trust-him intensive. Day by day we prayed and waited on Him. During that time of protests, curfews and army tanks, the peace He gave us truly did pass understanding.

There was the day a bomb went off in front of the building next door to my children’s school. But God, in his perfect timing, had kept all of our kids far away from that building on a planned pupil-free holiday. This non-coincidence was a clear reminder to me of how very in control God was.

There were many more non-coincidences like these. The first time the funding for our ministry drew very close to zero, we were anxious. We relied on donations alone; how would we get thousands of dollars to keep the refugee school going by next week? Then, suddenly, a $10,000 cheque came in. A year later when the bank balance was again near zero, we prayed and received another miracle of even greater proportions. The third time, we prayed in expectant faith. And, like God promised, we saw his deliverance; the funding came in, ensuring hundreds of underprivileged children could still go to school.

This did not mean bad things never happened in our six years in the Middle East: there were health problems, accidents, broken nights, our kids’ grief at every goodbye, and everyday stresses of life in a foreign land. But through each of these we could face the future knowing the Lord was with us, standing in his strength.

Fear not and see the deliverance of the Lord?

That day in Singapore when God gave me this verse, I didn’t know what to expect. I did not dream of a future with revolutions or bombs or emergency surgery. But looking back over the challenges and the blessings of our time in the Middle East, I know that my Lord has kept his promises in more ways than I could ever imagine.

Chelsea served with her family in the Middle East for six years.

Names have been changed.

The spirit in the room

Courage is highly esteemed in the Middle East, but underlying that, and rarely talked about, is extreme fear about the spirit world, particularly within folk Islam. Muslims and Christians alike recognise that unseen spiritual forces of the heavenly realms are constantly at work. Every now and then, however, we see the beautiful fruit of new believers who are freed from fear.

The staff of our community centre organised an art competition for young people. They did not advertise it widely for fear that some extreme groups, who deem any form of creative expression ‘haram’ (forbidden), would take offence. As a family, we attended the official opening, which was held in an unused part of the community centre. In an impressive outpouring of creativity, 50 young people displayed their artistic flair.

It was only when we showed our staff a blurry family photo taken at the exhibition that we learned about ‘Anji’, believed to be the resident evil spirit. One of my employees, Indigo, was particularly attuned to the ‘unseen’ and very fearful of the spirits she believed followed her every move. This led to a most unusual management/ministry issue that I was not prepared for. Soon almost all our local staff believed there was an evil spirit in that area.

Both Indigo and her colleague Harriet claimed to have heard the spirit’s name and seen her face in dreams. Indigo flatly refused to enter the room and when Harriet did she placed her holy book on the table next to her for protection. This fear of Anji became a growing problem but it led to opportunities for us to share openly with staff about the One who has power over evil spirits.

At one of our weekly staff lunches, the topic of Anji was discussed for more than an hour. I didn’t want to trivialise the importance of the issue but reminded staff that our centre provided great ‘light’, hope and transformation in people’s lives so it was to be expected that the devil would oppose it.

I decided to be bolder and offered to pray with and for any staff members in Jesus’ name in these rooms. This created an awkward conundrum: if they asked for prayer they were publically admitting that Jesus does have power, but not asking left them crippled with fear. It was awkward for me too, considering this battle was out of my comfort zone and experience; however, Ephesians 6:10–12 gave me more than enough guidance:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers … against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Sadly, our staff never did ask us to pray to expel the evil spirits. Many did, however, recognise the power of our own prayers. Harriet became increasingly open and committed to read the Bible alongside her holy book every day. She would often come to us with concerns and ask us to pray. We still long for them to know the power of Jesus and to experience freedom from fear.

We had seen the fruit of faith remove fear in a very tangible way with another new local believer, Ruth. She had been under much pressure from the unseen, so crippled by a fear of jinn (spirits), in fact, that her sister needed to accompany her even to the bathroom. Amazingly, immediately after she trusted Jesus her fear disappeared.

Please join us in praying that Ruth will continue to stand firm, and that many others will be freed from their fears and superstitions.

Stephen is a long-term Partner working in the Middle East.

Names have been changed.

Do unto others

At the organisation where I volunteer a few days a week doing prenatal care, I meet women who have fled from the horrors of war. Most women at the clinic are victims of the most heinous acts. These women, almost all of them, are pregnant through rape. What can one say to someone who is in a situation like this, violated, pregnant and refugee?

A pregnancy, which for most people is something positive, is for these women a big shame. Some of them cannot even manage to tell us what has happened to them. Some have their story written down on a piece of paper for us to read. When I examine a woman, measuring the size of the uterus and listening to the fetal heartbeat, I wonder—how is she coping? What does she think when she feels the baby kick or when she hears the heartbeat through the doptone (electric fetoscope) when I examine her? I do not know at all what this particular woman has experienced. But the empty mournful gaze I often face on these women tells me that I probably don’t want to know too many details about it either.

Gender-based sexual violence is one of the hardest things I’ve met in this work. It is not only in this country that it happens but everywhere where conflict is ongoing. It is commonly used in war situations. I think of the Yezidi women I met who were captured, used as sex slaves and sent home when they showed signs of pregnancy.

Ever since childhood I have stood up for the unprivileged in society. I had a sense of fairness that sometimes got me into trouble when “solving” problems using my fists! Early in my life I wanted to follow Jesus and work abroad where people did not know about Him. My plan was to work in an orphanage taking care of and loving babies and small children. I wanted to become a nurse and midwife, because surely they would deal with babies! Little did I know back then that a midwife just sees to it that the baby is born safely. But even now I still have the same longing to serve the most vulnerable. So whenever I meet people from other cultures— men and women—I feel this longing to help.

I have been able to use my profession in roles I never could have imagined. I have served in four different Muslim countries since 1991, working with women through antenatal care and family planning clinics. My driving force has been and still is to show the love of Christ to the women I meet.

“How is it possible to survive and even thrive in a Muslim context where women have little or no rights?” is a question I sometimes get. First and foremost I need to say that I have felt respected and valued by the authorities and almost all my colleagues. God put the love for these women in my heart. My motivation was and still is:

‘So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you’. Matthew 7:12a (NIV)

This verse gives me compassion and empathy for those I meet. Yes, I get tired and impatient but as I listen to people’s stories I can’t help but keep going. What I am doing is not so strange; I try to put myself in their place. I know I can’t feel the same but I can show that I care.

This is how we as Christians can have an impact on anyone we meet. It could be as we are serving overseas or even now when we see people from other countries and faiths in our own countries, in a shop, on the bus and as colleagues at work. We need to pray for courage to take the first step.

The author is an Interserve Partner and has served in the Arab world for over 25 years.

More than the sum of our parts

This year I celebrated the tenth anniversary of the rather dubious distinction of being blacklisted (refused entry as a ”risk to national
security”) by the country where my family and I had served as part of the Interserve fellowship for nearly a decade.

One of our core commitments as a fellowship is to work alongside national believers, equipping and empowering them to be light and salt
in their community. Among other things, this ensures that the task can continue long after we have left. I thought it appropriate on this tenth
anniversary to review how well that is happening in the community we were a part of.

Nearly 20 years ago, my wife and I, along with our 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son, moved to an impoverished third-world city. Not
unlike many Interserve Partners, I thought I was well equipped with professional expertise (a 4-year agricultural science degree, 3 years of
doctoral studies and 4 years of postdoctoral research). But 10 months later I found myself sitting in the dirt of an inner-city garbage dump (also a primitive industrial area and home to thousands of people), selecting some crude pottery. I had begun to work with a Dutch entrepreneur (let’s call him Pieter) who thought he could build a business and ministry in the midst of such squalor. My part was to be the world’s most highly qualified pot inspector!

So began a most unexpected decade-long adventure. Pottery became a path to friendships with people in communities across that country whose faith and worldview were utterly unlike mine. In the process, we exported hundreds of containers of pottery, brought substantial income into some of the poorest communities, and shared about the wonderful hope we have in Jesus with many of those people. We had the opportunity to demonstrate by our daily life the goodness and mercy of our wonderful Lord and Saviour.

We also often got it wrong, and the people we worked among were often liberal with the truth. Indeed, like any genuine friendship, we all
needed to give and receive forgiveness quite regularly. But, like many friendships that endure hardship (even self-inflicted hardship), those
friendships became all the more precious as those moments of grace, given and received, somehow welded us together.

Perhaps no-one had to do more forgiving than the group of young Christian men who we employed on a daily basis to help us with the
work and who participated with us in the ministry. This was no charity: long days, often travelling for hours on dangerous roads, working out in
the open, hard physical work under a hot sun – but always alongside the people who made the pottery. Over the years, these young Christian
men grew with the business and took over much of the day-to-day operations. They shared fully in our ministry but also took initiatives, establishing their own business and even starting their own ministry.

After nearly a decade of living and working intensely with these young men, Pieter and I were suddenly no longer permitted to re-enter that country. Overnight, something that had filled our lives so completely was gone. It’s now 10 years since we were unable to return and I have
been so encouraged by the way those young men have continued to build on our rather shaky foundations. So I wanted to tell you about each of them – let’s call them David, Michael, Stephen and Josh.

When we left, David was already our Operations Manager and Pieter and I decided that hewas the person to take over the business. He
bought the business from us and we continued to provide working capital (on which we charged interest). The business has continued
to function and provide a basis for David’s day-to-day engagement with those majority-faith communities across the country. David continues to employ both Christian and majority-faith people and last year was the best year for sales turnover in 10 years. He has had to contend with the impact of the Arab Spring chaos and the global financial crisis before that. Yet this business has survived and continues to generate significant work for impoverished communities.

David and Stephen together decided to also respond to the situation of women in that community by starting small micro-finance projects. All of this may not seem remarkable to you, but the subtext is that this is a society where there is an invisible but very strong separation between the majority and minority (Christian) faith communities. The Christian
community sees the majority as their persecuting oppressors. So the idea that Christians might consider the vulnerable and needy among the
majority faith worthy of care and concern is a revolutionary mindset.

Michael has also not been still in the 10 years we have been away. He and his wife (who has specialist skills in the care of children with disabilities) started a centre for children with disabilities in the village where our business was based. In this culture, as in many countries,
to have a child with a disability is a matter of significant personal shame; such children are frequently hidden in homes, neglected, living without dignity or opportunity. Michael and his wife currently have over 100
children at the centre and they have trained local women from the village (many of them mothers of the children) to provide the children with high-quality care and education. Last year, a 6-year-old girl, the daughter of a local religious leader, was brought to them because she had never spoken. One day, after six months with them, she began speaking whole sentences. As a father I can only imagine the impact this had on that girl’s family. This is a profound witness of what it means to follow Christ. I don’t know if this was a miracle or simply the result of placing the child in a stimulating environment, but just the fact that a Christian would choose to care for the child of a religious leader speaks volumes to that community about the Jesus we serve.

Stephen was for me always a bit of surprise. He never really seemed to like working with us (it might have been something to do with the fact that every day was a bit like boot camp!). He was often late for work and not very reliable in participating in the ministry we were doing. Yet, after we left, he turned himself to sharing his faith full-time with people from the majority community. Not only did he get involved in this work himself (which in that region is a dangerous thing to do), but he also trained
others and equipped them with skills to run their own businesses (as he did) so that they could support themselves in their ministry. Stephen
also travelled to adjoining countries to share his faith and to encourage and equip Christians there to do the same.

Ironically, perhaps the most gifted businessman of the group was Josh. When Josh started working with us, he had a full-time job with the
government. These jobs paid a pittance but were highly valued for the security and benefits they afforded. I remember asking Josh how, as a Christian, he felt about being paid to work full-time but only doing two hours work a day (the rest of the time was spent reading the paper and
drinking tea). He said, “Well, if I did more, then there wouldn’t be enough work for everyone else!” Despite coming from this socialist utopia (!), Josh quickly grasped the capitalist principles of commerce. He built his own business while we were there, first sourcing then producing key inputs for our business. Even before we left he had established a substantial factory employing many people. Today Josh is a significant trader in that area and the profits from his work go, in part, to support
the ministries which others are involved in.

The six of us met up last year. It was lovely to be together again, to catch up on each other’s news and share the challenges we face. These
men clearly saw their work and ministry not as an end in itself but as a faith response to Jesus’ work in their lives. Pieter and I felt very privileged to have had a part in their stories.

Of the four billion people living in Asia and the Arab world, more than half do not know a single Christian. In the last 20 years, Interserve
Australia has sent just over 200 Partners who together have clocked up
years. If we were to single-handedly befriend, share the gospel with and disciple all those who had never met a Christian, we’d have had 25 seconds for each one! So we came up with a bright idea – or recognised it as such in retrospect, which is how most good mission is done! This is it: we disciple some people and they disciple people and together we seek to make Jesus known. We empower the local church so that they are equipped and motivated to bring the goodness of Christ to every
community.

If there is a message in my story, it is that if we – a relatively small group of Christians in Australia – want to share the gospel with more than 2
billion people in Asia and the Arab world who have never even met a Christian, then doing it in partnership with local believers is the way to go!

Scott* and his family have served in Business as Mission ministries in the Arab world and Asia.

*Names have been changed.

Four denominations one church

I have been privileged to serve the national church in the Middle East and to see God at work. Under the local leadership of the Anglican, Methodist, Orthodox and Presbyterian churches, I helped pastors and directors of church-run non-government organisations (NGOs), in
particular through administration for community development projects.

I enjoyed working with these denominations and hold them in high regard. Serving God is considered a real honour and privilege and they do it with zeal.

Little Akram was brought to the Anglican-supported deaf school at nine years of age. He had absolutely no idea how to communicate. When his parents left him at the city boarding school in less than a week, instead of gradually settling him in, Akram was beside himself. He felt abandoned, left with strangers who were making funny signs he could not understand. He expressed his bewilderment through sobs and tantrums that lasted for hours. He was so desperate, they even had to lock the front door to stop him dashing outside onto the busy street.

The director and staff put their Christian faith into action and showed kindness to Akram who slowly began to respond. Although Akram was initially placed in a class with four-year-old children learning sign language from scratch, the teacher soon saw he was very bright. He even started to help his fellow classmates. After extra lessons during the
summer break, he moved into a class with children his own age the following year.

One Methodist pastor ministered in a very poor village of about 1500 inhabitants, where illiteracy was estimated at 75%. He saw the need to hold literacy classes and after-school classes to help the children grasp literacy and numeracy so they would not drop out of school. The NGO also provided poor families with school bags with essential items.

It was a joy to see how the children had grasped reading, writing and arithmetic skills. I was struck by the testimony of one teacher who admitted that initially the students were obnoxious, and after struggling for some time she was ready to quit. She prayed with the pastor about the situation. God responded by first giving her a loving heart for the
children then an amazing turn-around in the children’s attitudes followed.

The NGO supported many village projects and met with Orthodox priests who were working towards bettering the state of their village communities. One successful program provided small loans to villagers for projects that generated income: loans to purchase goats, sheep, sewing machines, or necessary stock for grocery stores, mobile accessory shops, motorcycle repairs and restaurants. The loans transformed the lives of families – widows could make a living using their sewing machines and men could work locally instead of in the cities, thus keeping their families together.

I attended a large Presbyterian church in the capital city. During the upheaval of the Arab Spring, the church found itself a possible easy target as it was situated just behind a now-famous city square. Instead
of closing the church building to the public for protection, the church opened their gates, set up a makeshift hospital and ministered to the wounded. The church also allowed Muslims to use their water so they could perform their ablutions before their prayers, as the nearby mosque was unable to cater to the large numbers. This was a friendly gesture that became a great witness to the people. Many Muslims spoke of the church in a positive way.

Thank you, Interserve, for allowing me to assist Arab Christians in serving their communities and see these people living out their faith
through active service.

Written by an Interserve Partner recently returned from the Arab world.