Recently, Step Forward conducted our first in-person conference of any kind in the Middle East region since February of 2020. God miraculously provided a venue in Cyprus. Leaders from the Middle East rejoiced as God overcame obstacle after obstacle that could have prevented their attendance. At one point it appeared impossible for our partners in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon to obtain their visas in time. Flight cancellations and Covid testing complicated matters. But God was at work. Every person arrived on time! Miraculous!
The conference was special in every way! The worship music daily was heavenly. The conference theme, The Faithfulness of God, was effectively taught by our teachers. The anointing of God upon each teacher and lesson was evident. The Holy Spirit used the conference - the music, teaching, prayer times, fellowship, and testimonies - to bring renewal, revival, and encouragement to every person there. Truly, God was at work!
The testimonies underscored two important realities. Our people in the region have endured great suffering since March of 2020. Our people have remained faithful. Yes, many are weary. Some have lost close family members to the unseen enemy Covid. Others have loved ones who are enduring prolonged sickness due to the pandemic. Some are concerned for the health and well-being of their children. One lady commented that her family can now afford meat once per month. But in the midst of it all, they continued to serve Jesus and to share the love of Jesus with refugees and others in need.
I wish everyone could have heard the testimonies. One man (an SF missionary) spoke for many of the attendees in the region when he commented that we did not run from Covid, rather we ran toward it. We choose to continue to take food, medicine, personal supplies, and the Good News of salvation to those in need from Covid victims to the unemployed. This man and his wife suffered twice through Covid.
A medical doctor in the group continued to serve Covid patients even though he and nine members of his family caught Covid. Two or three of our missionaries talked about continuing to serve refugees even when told to lockdown at home. A pastor mentioned that over half of the people in his church lost their jobs as businesses closed. The church shared their resources with the unemployed while continuing to care for refugees from Iraq and Syria.
One of our missionaries told about his outreach on the streets with food, music and preaching. The response was beautiful. Someone in a predominantly Muslim neighbor invited him to come “and share the love of Jesus with us”.
We don’t know when the pandemic will be defeated, but we are rejoicing that Covid has not stopped the people of God from living and sharing their faith. Like the Christ- followers in Acts 4, they are asking God for continued boldness to speak the name of Jesus to those living in darkness.
It is a great privilege and huge responsibility for Step Forward to stand beside them in this hour of unprecedented need and opportunity to make an eternal difference. With the continued prayers and support of our friends, we anticipate numerous in-person conferences in 2022 … and an abundant harvest of souls coming to Christ in the greater Middle East region. Yes, God is at work!
Dr. Doug Carter
SFGM Chairman of Board