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A Christian Outreach in a Muslim Land – Ministry Highlight

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Focus on the Family Middle East navigates the difficulties of ministering in a challenging culture

When we hear the word Egypt, many of us probably think of pyramids and pharaohs. It’s an ancient land with thousands of years of history, and it figures prominently in the Bible.

In 2001, Focus on the Family Middle East opened its office in Cairo. They joined a network of international associate offices supported by Focus on the Family, U.S.

Over the years, Focus on the Family Middle East has expanded its efforts throughout the Arab world. Egypt is a desert country that traces back to among the earliest civilizations. This small but dedicated group is on the cutting edge of living out biblical principles within a Muslim land.

“All sorts of family problems”

Regional Director Sami Yacoub is a keenly gifted man who enthusiastically embraces the task at hand. “We are Christians by faith, living in a Muslim culture,” he says. “So we have to understand the impact of the Muslim culture on our Christian community.”

Sami points to marriage as an example. “In the Muslim culture, men perceive women as inferior, as property—even as ‘defective’ in faith and in mind,” he explains. “With such a lack of teaching about how God wants family to be, there are all sorts of family problems.”

The challenges families face in the Arab world are similar to what we experience in the West. Marital conflict and parenting struggles are universal. Issues involving homosexuality and suicide are on the rise. As technology expands, families must deal with such topics as pornography, media consumption and the excessive influence of social media.

Focus on the Family Middle East works to address these issues by translating and adapting the best Christian resources available. They have gained the trust of Coptic Orthodox churches that comprise the majority of Egypt’s Christian population. Over the last several years, the team has received many invitations to present relationship seminars in those churches throughout Egypt. 

Several key programs have been crafted for the region. An Arabic translation of The Truth Project was launched in 2008. It remains highly popular with Coptic leaders. Adaptations of the No Apologies abstinence curriculum and the Drug Proof  Your Kids seminar consistently produce significant results. Most recently, the team expedited an Arabic version of Focus on the Family’s Alive to Thrive suicide-prevention training. These programs have found favor among Muslims dealing with such issues in their own households.

Reaching out in love

In addition to practical teaching, Focus Middle East works to tangibly meet humanitarian needs. Since 2014 the team has provided aid to displaced Christian families in Iraq and refugees in Jordan. In 2015, the office was the catalyst for efforts to provide homes for the families of 21 Coptic Christians who were martyred by ISIS extremists.

Recently, the team has been working to bring running water and basic sanitation to 300 impoverished families in Deir Gabal El-Teir, a struggling village in northern Egypt. It has become a refuge for Coptic Christians fleeing persecution in other parts of the region. Team members are also assisting five Lebanese churches with their support of refugee families.

Serious prayer

Focus on the Family Middle East bathes every effort in fervent prayer — from a major campaign to a simple video meeting. That’s a good reminder for all of us. 

“Prayer is a serious business,” Sami says. “And ‘serious’ means that we do not force our plan—and the answer we expect—on God. We must be sensitive to see where and how God is answering our prayers in His way.”

Sami and his co-workers value the participation of Christians worldwide in this serious business. “Please keep on praying for us,” he says. “And do not underestimate that God is taking your prayer seriously.”

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