March 18, 2018

In Lebanon, Partnership Launches Year-Long Outreach Initiative

Melanie Wixwat, Middle East and North Africa Union

Three Seventh-day Adventist churches in Lebanon combined for a spiritual kick-off rally the first weekend of March. The three-day event marked the beginning of a year-long evangelism partnership between the It Is Written ministry and the Adventist churches in Beirut, the country’s capital city.

Three hundred and seventy-five members and friends attended the initial weekend of meetings.

A first of its kind for both It Is Written and the churches in Lebanon, the kick-off rally was the beginning of many events being planned throughout the year, culminating with a two-week evangelism series to be held by John Bradshaw in March 2019.

“The Middle East is a difficult area to invite public speakers because of the many restrictions and cultural differences,” said Gilberto Araujo, Eastern Mediterranean Region director.

It Is Written evangelism director Yves Monnier shared how Paul and Silas encountered many difficulties in their missionary journey, but how God used some of their lowest moments for His greatest work.

“God gives success, and we see people giving their lives in baptism,” said Monnier. “Evangelism faces a lot of opposition, but God can turn the challenges into successes too.”

Overcoming Fear and Skepticism

Monnier’s message inspired Lebanese Adventists.

Principal of the Bouchrieh Seventh-day Adventist School Jimmy Choufani said it was a motivating message for all Lebanese members to think about their mission, being the light to the community.

Middle East University professor Rajah Farah concurred. “From a human perspective it will be quite difficult to overcome the cultural climate here in Lebanon,” he said. “But when the Spirit of God is working, nothing is impossible for him.”

In November 2017, the East Mediterranean Region conducted a pilot project with Adventist international evangelist Mark Finley. Despite initial fears and scepticism, the response was positive, so plans went ahead for the upcoming meetings.

“It is our first attempt to show that the same God that works everywhere in the world, loves Lebanon,” said Araujo.

“We determined that this had some potential,” said Monnier. “Out of a simple dialogue something grew, roots came out, shoots came out, and now here we are growing something that God is honoring and blessing.”

Inspired to Reach Out

Middle East University church pastor Jared Miller expressed optimism for the coming year.

“Some of the events we are planning include health expos, ESL & computer literacy classes, and more direct outreach like door to door work, canvassing, and [connecting to] Bible study interests,” said Miller. “We want to establish friendships, so people will come [to spend time] with friends and not…with strangers.”

Church members shared what they will personally do to prepare for the upcoming meetings.

“I will stay outside the meeting hall, answering questions of people passing by, inviting them in to be part of the meetings,” said Jean Jack, a lay member and regional church employee.

On his part, Literature Evangelism Coordinator for Middle East University Alex Clemente explains the role that his literature ministry will play in the upcoming meetings.

“Door to door work is possible here. God is working, and people are responding,” said Clemente.

Others have offered to help with media and advertisement. Still others plan to spread the news at their local schools, reaching both students and parents.

The weekend ended with a Sunday training session, in which Monnier explained the evangelism process.

Church region president Rick McEdward said he appreciates It Is Written is working with local churches and leaders in Lebanon.

“It is a great blessing for our work, and we are praying that God will anoint the time and efforts of Yves Monnier and John Bradshaw as we share Christ’s message here,” he said.