A shrinking Christian population in the Middle East and North Africa is endangered – or is it?

It was a mass exodus that came in waves. Christians of the Middle East immigrated in search of better education, job opportunities, equality, personal freedoms, and especially, the fundamental right to physical safety. From 1910 to 2010, the region’s Christian population dwindled from 13.6 percent to 4.2 percent, and it is anticipated to drop even farther.[1]

In this unlikely environment, Algeria’s tiny underground Church is expanding exponentially and rapidly. Iran has the fastest growing house church movement in the world. And in Afghanistan, new souls are coming to Christ every month.

In Sudan, a small group called The Candlelight Choir is a shining representation of hope for the Church in the region. Recently featured on the SAT-7 ARABIC program Keep on Singing, the 32 members of the renowned choir are not compensated financially at all for their participation. On the contrary, while they hold down full-time jobs and raise young children, the singers contribute financially and sacrificially from their own budgets to keep the ministry alive.

Choir member Mido is a father of two in his 30s. He says that worship music is powerful because African children grow up with music and identify with the tunes they’re hearing. Even still, face-to-face ministry in the church can only reach so far. Mido says,

“SAT-7 is carrying a great burden off the church in the Middle East because the church can only serve a limited number of people in the congregation. But now media is using technology to reach a wide audience.”

Looking ahead, Mido tells us what the Church in Sudan really needs to survive:

“The Christians in Sudan need to know their Bible very well. If they barely know the Word of God, then they are weak and make the church weak. Praise alone isn’t enough. Praise declares the presence of the Lord, but He is also present in His Holy Word. We need to encourage people to study the Word of God.”

Mido’s words ring true not just in Sudan, but around the world. This is our chance to make God’s Word available to believers across the Middle East and North Africa. We can strengthen the Church, and hope for its survival.

[1] Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

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