Overseas Council's region of the Middle East and North Africa encompasses the Arabic-speaking nations of the region, as well as Sudan, Turkey, Iran, Israel and Afghanistan. Unlike many other regions of the world, religion is the main defining characteristic of this region, namely the dominance of Islam. Despite this, strong and ancient communities of Christians exist throughout the region. While these churches based in the ancient Christian population of the region function openly in most areas, churches made up of converts from Islam face continual challenges. In most countries, legal penalties for religious conversion make public declaration of faith nearly impossible. Even in relatively open nations like Lebanon, social and family pressures make open conversion difficult or impossible. Even with these difficulties, it is estimated that the Christian population in the region is growing.
I served at a partner school for 21 years and have seen the impact of Overseas Council firsthand. Our ministry was transformed in many aspects including governance, administration, academics, faculty development and finance. I also have experienced the role of Overseas Council in my life as a professor and dean as they helped me to develop my teaching skills and administrative capacity. I have noticed the impact of Overseas Council on different schools in the region as well. By supporting the theological institutions in the region and not just financially, we are helping schools equip leaders who help churches do their best to transform their societies and build the Kingdom of God. I believe that Overseas Council is playing a significant role in supporting the churches in the Middle East and North Africa through supporting the schools that train and prepare committed, faithful and visionary leaders.
Abraham Najjar, PhD*, OC-USA Regional Consultant for the Middle East/North Africa
*Name has been changed for security purposes