March messages for the Middle East
Thousands of believers from countries across the Middle East, including Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt, have signed up to receive daily messages from Christians around the world - and there is an exciting opportunity for you to write to them!
Open Doors has launched a Hope for the Middle East encouragement app (application) for believers in the Middle East. This means that if you email us a short message (to firstname.lastname@example.org) - maybe with a picture or a 15 second video - we will check whether it is OK, and then send it to believers on their phones and tablet devices.
Already, the app is being well received by Christians in the Middle East. One believer wrote: "May the Lord bless you, I'm very happy with this app. I hope we can encourage each other in reading the gospel. May the Lord repay you for your efforts..." Another said: "Thank you for this valuable devotion. May the Lord bless you and us as well, now and ever and to our last breath."
THEME FOR MARCH
Each month we encourage you to write your messages with a different theme - this stops them becoming repetitive and makes them more relevant to the recipients.
This month (March 2018) we encourage you to write your messages under the theme of "Mothers, parents and grandparents".
In the Middle East, people celebrate Mother’s Day on 21 March and it is a month where most people think about their mothers and grandmothers and visit them and buy them gifts. There are many examples in the Bible that talk about parents - and about mothers in particular - that could be inspiring and encouraging to believers in the Middle East, eg the story about trusting God’s will by Abraham and Sarah, and also Mary, the mother of Christ, submitting to God’s will which was part of God’s plan for the salvation of humanity.
"Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children." (Proverbs 17:6)
Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” And he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” (Genesis 48:9)
What you need to do:
- If you can, please upload with your message a good-quality photo OR short video OR audio clip - as the Middle Eastern culture is very visual and audio based, messages containing media are easier to share on the app and are viewed by more people.
- Write a short message up to 500 characters without a picture, or 100 characters with a picture (including spaces).
- You could include an encouraging Bible verse.
You must email your message to email@example.com only. We cannot pass on hardcopy messages.
Make it personal:
- If you are willing, you can state your first name, age, profession, and/or country. Be aware that this information will then become public on the internet and may be shared on social media by believers in the Middle East. Do not include your full name or full address.
- Provide a picture so that more people view it, eg a Bible verse, a group of you praying, a picture of a cross, you waving at the camera, nature. etc.
- As believers in the Middle East are facing struggles, you could talk about how you deal with personal (spiritual) struggles - is there a special prayer that helps you?
- Make sure pictures and videos are in the landscape orientation (and copyright free!)
- Try to send pictures that are at least 700 pixels wide, but not more than 1080
- If the pictures contain posters or text, please make sure that they are legible
- Leave enough space on your video, or if you have text in your picture, for an Arabic translation (roughly, your text should not take up more than 20 per cent of the image)
- When creating a video, include a short description, make sure that it is under 15 seconds in length and no larger than 1GB. Do not create a complicated video with music and moving text, because the video will be translated into Arabic. Simply send the text you want to include in the video (in mov, mp4, m4v, wmv and flv formats only, between 400-1000 kbps) and any specific instructions - like when/where you want the text to appear. The aspect ratio must be either 4:3 or 16:9
- You could record an mp3 song snippet and/or include a message up to 30 seconds in length.
STRUGGLING WITH WHAT TO SAY?
If you are struggling to know what to say, you could imagine you are writing to a Christian widow, someone who has lost their job, or a believer who has been displaced - like in the story below.
Two years ago, my family and I fled my home and became refugees when it became too dangerous for us to stay. It was the most difficult thing we've ever had to do.
It's been hard for me to continue my university education in a country that's not my own. I don't feel safe and I'm losing hope in a better future. I'm trying to make sense of what is happening around me, and even though I know that God is there for us, I'm unable to find peace in my heart.
I miss my home and community so much. Every day I pray that we can go back.
Below are some ideas of messages you could send.
Keep the faith brothers and sisters. We fight the good fight. You are loved deeply by the Almighty.
Be strong, brothers and sisters. My husband, David, myself, Anna, and my two daughters, Hannah (aged 9) and Lucy (aged 5) are praying for you. Your faith is an inspiration to us all. We are telling our friends in the church about what you are going through. We are praying for you. God bless!
On behalf of Your family, God, we are praying for the safety of all our persecuted family. We pray for their protection. Lord, let Your love fill them once again specially for those who are about to give up. Lord, let them see the hope again in You, that You are always there for them. Lord, we are lifting our family to You. Guide them protect them, and let Your most precious and holy blood cover them. Amen.
For further guidelines on messages of encouragement (please note that you can only email these messages, not post them) visit our simple letter-writing guidelines page.
If you would like to discover more ways that you can bring hope to the Middle East, visit the Hope for the Middle East campaign webpage.