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 you can write to them!
Open Doors has launched a Hope for the Middle East encouragement app. Email us a short message (to firstname.lastname@example.org) - maybe with a picture or a 15 second video - and we will pass it on to persecuted Christians who will be able to access your messages via their phones and tablets.
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."
MARCH 2020: COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS) UPDATE
As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus epidemic, some countries are more affected than others, with the level of suffering depending on a number of factors: the healthcare system, cultural habits, country demographics, and the economy to name a few. Our persecuted brothers and sisters are in need of encouragement now more than ever - and you can help!
In the Middle East, a lot of governments are authoritarian, and countries like Syria and Iraq are at an added disadvantage with weak economies and basic healthcare systems. And even though the declared numbers of affected people are relatively low compared to Europe and the US, the effects of the epidemic are heavy and are expected to get worse rapidly. Syria in particular is still suffering from the devastating impact of the civil war, with an almost non-existent healthcare system. And it bears remembering that some middle eastern countries are not accurately reporting the numbers of affected people in order to avoid panic and to show that the government is still in control.
Even though the effect is felt by the whole of society, vulnerable Christian communities are at a greater disadvantage:
- The state of emergency could be used by governments to crack down harder on churches, especially house churches, as part of preventing meetings and gatherings.
- In poorer areas, many Christians are not connected to the internet and cannot hold online meetings.
- Even for Christians that have internet access, many of their churches are not able to broadcast services. This could increase the sense of isolation for Christians.
As you think about your message(s) to believers in the Middle East, please pray:
- That isolated Christians will feel a sense of belonging and that they would be strengthened in their faith
- For Christian communities to get the aid and treatment they need and that they would not be denied resources
- That more controlling governments would not take advantage of the pandemic to crack down on house churches
- That believers would continue to be salt and light in their communities.
How to send your message:
- 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.