Staff and volunteers in Egypt and Lebanon form the two main Arabic media ministry teams. These cooperate with others in countries like Jordan, Sudan and Bahrain. Most are in their 20s or early 30s.
Connected over the internet by Skype, we regularly wrestle in brainstorming sessions on how to best bring the gospel of God’s grace in Christ to millions of restless, disenchanted Arab youth. Plans are firmed up at gatherings either in Cairo or Beirut.
Traditional radio still reaches outlying communities and the older generation. More Arabs, especially youth, are changing over to the internet, so we have been boldly experimenting with online radio.
It has proven to be labour-intensive, requiring training and additional staff, yet the results have been rewarding.
Every day we now have two hours of online Arabic gospel broadcasting available on the website. The first hour is a live broadcast with spontaneous Skype conversations with listeners, plus reading of fresh emails and text messages.
The second hour consists of short, pre-recorded, broadcast segments, frequently interspersed with music and invitations for listener comments by email or text message.
Initial responses are encouraging. In time, we hope to increase these interactive broadcasts which attract the younger Arabs — the majority of the population.
Security concerns require disguising the location of broadcast centres and personnel. Participating listeners, however, have no difficulty identifying themselves and their locations.
Different Arabic dialects of interacting listeners are easily discerned, including Egyptian, Lebanese, Sudanese, Arabian peninsula, North African and others.
This pan-Arab response has helpfully given the media ministry an appealing image, since people from all 22 Arab nations feel welcome and do participate. Responses come even from Arabic-speaking communities in southern Europe, Turkey and Iran.
Young Arab listeners show growing restlessness, anxiety and disenchantment with religion. This is also reflected on secular radio and internet-based programmes. So our regular brain-storming sessions focus on doing all we can to point to the gospel’s alternative.
We stress that Christ’s life, teaching and vicarious work contradicted, rebuked and challenged his contemporary religious fanatics.
Here are two recent responses from opposite ends of the Arab world. In the far northwest, Hassan B. from Morocco says, ‘Three years ago, my studies and observations led me to hate religion … Now I am convinced that Issa al-Masih [Jesus the Messiah] has an admirable heavenly life’.
In the far southeast, T.A. of Yemen says, ‘Yes, I want to be one who feeds on and drinks of the healing words of Issa’.
Map key: Green countries, Arabic the only official language; blue countries, Arabic one of several official languages.