By Charles, Recently retired worker in Arab World Media
Media ministry is not new, but many changes have happened over the years. Charles gives us his insights of thirty years of working in this area.
The way it was
When I first visited Morocco in the early 1980s, there was only one TV channel and in order to make an international phone call, I had to go to the main post office. If Moroccans were interested in the gospel, their best chance of hearing it would probably have been on the radio. After that they could correspond with a media organisation and do a simple Bible correspondence course. Later, it might be possible to arrange for them to meet with a believer – often an expat.
The digital revolution
Today however, things are very different. The opportunity to find out about the gospel has mushroomed through satellite TV, the internet and, most recently, social media. Instead of radio programmes and magazines, we produce websites, videos and Facebook posts. Our responders are even able to send an electronic copy of the Bible. What will come next? The material must still be relevant, interesting and thought-provoking. It must stimulate the enquirer to enter into personal contact. The answers no longer come in long-awaited letters, but often immediately through WhatsApp and online messages. However, these answers must still be sympathetic and helpful, and deal satisfactorily with the many common objections raised by Muslims.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of all this is the opportunity that has opened up for national believers to be directly involved, sharing their testimonies on YouTube and interacting with interested enquirers, both online and face-to-face.
The same old challenges
The challenge of media ministry remains essentially the same, even though media itself has changed. The greatest obstacle in the Muslim world is still hostility towards the gospel. A person who wants to find out more about Christianity can expect great difficulties if their interest becomes known. Our contacts often stress to us that our interaction with them must remain strictly confidential. However, in many countries there has been a significant change in attitudes. Many are disillusioned and questioning, often provoked by considering the recent horrors of extremism. This presents an opening to share Christ’s message of love and forgiveness.
We must always keep in mind the goal of seeing the enquirer come to Christ and be connected to a local fellowship. The opportunity then comes to see believers grow in faith and become fruitful witnesses. How can we as a media ministry support these new believers more effectively?
Interest in this area has grown greatly in recent years. Thirty years ago, we were delighted if one person turned to Christ. It was a tremendous subject of praise and thanks. But now – and rightly so – Christian workers in the Arab world have started to think in terms of a harvest – of seeing not just one believer, but hopefully a church that will multiply and become a movement. We are just beginning to see such movements in the Arab world. May this stir us all to pray that there would be many more, for God’s glory.