G8 Summit (Cover photo by francediplomatie)
Middle East (MNN) ― As world leaders met in France for the G8 Summit last week, the uprisings in the Middle East dominated discussions.
The International Monetary Fund promised help for the Middle East and North Africa regions over the next two years, even before reforms are in place. It's part of their pledge to help with the transition to democratic governments in the wake of a turbulent Arab Spring.
In the meantime, members of the G8--Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States--have been trying to connect the dots between economic impact, political unrest and what kind of role information technology plays.
Even as the governments discussed transitions and response, a radio ministry has been implementing their plan with pleasing success. Lee DeYoung with Words of Hope says two-thirds of the Arabic-speaking people are under age 36. The younger people have been raised exposed to much more in terms of ideology and philosophy.
In order to reach the younger demographic, DeYoung says their team adapted their programs but found themselves streamlining even more when the turmoil began in Tunisia at the beginning of the year. "Our broadcasts are heard 30-minutes every night, all throughout the Middle East and all of the countries of the Arab League. The impact of the turmoil and the resulting change has entailed many unintended consequences and difficulties for people in the region."
A typical program will feature several segments. First, "Sayings of Christ," which focuses on provocative sayings like "love your enemies." The saying is then explored thematically throughout the program without attributing its source. At the end, the saying is repeated and attributed directly to Jesus.
"Arab Calls of the Heart" is another segment that offers critique of religion in the region. Specifically, it highlights traditional Arab culture which is different from current-day Islam. The program appeals to traditional Arab values, which DeYoung says are more closely aligned with biblical principles. This approach takes the "foreign influence" aspect out of the mix and opens the door further for truth claims.
The third segment is "Thought for the Day," which emphasizes the teachings of Jesus and what they mean in current-day society.
Is it risky? DeYoung notes, "Some Islamic groups have escalated anti-Christian rhetoric and launched deadly attacks against churches." Then, he demurs, adding, "All of this rising uncertainty also presents opportunities for Gospel outreach amidst change; people are often more open to fresh perspectives including spiritual alternatives."
It's the perfect time to inject the hope of Christ. Their approach piques "interest in the person of Jesus Christ, not in any form which points to religious practice and ritual, but rather a living relationship with a Savior."
Keep praying for wisdom for the team as they continue their response to the heat of the Arab Spring. "The change that was sought is not leading necessarily in positive directions. As people reflect on how this happening and why it's happening, they may be drawn to the profound wisdom and appeal of Jesus Christ Himself."