May 2020 Newsletter: Don’t Waste a Good Crisis…
May 15, 2020
Don’t Waste a Good Crisis
May 15, 2020

Will You Go Where You Don’t Know?

Our 2016 Bachelor of Theology graduate, Elias Abi Rashed, shares about his ministry in Lebanon

Will you come and follow me
If I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know
And never be the same?

The well-known hymn starts like this. It only takes a monosyllabic, heartfelt reply for God to unleash His great work through us. This is the story of Elias and many of our graduates who joined God’s team. God has been using Elias in unreached areas of Lebanon since 2018. We pray that you will trace the goodness of God as you read his account.

Rami had been listening and asking penetrating questions all throughout the Bible study. This was the first home group we had started in the North of Lebanon, and this was his first time visiting. After the session, he approached me and said, “I have been waiting for fifty years to hear these words.” Rami had not heard the message of Christ before, so when he finally did, he could no longer let go of Him. In fact, he began to share the gospel with the leaders of his people since he, too, was a leader there.

The gospel is fresh news to the families.

Our ministry in the North started in late 2018 after a young man in the area came to Christ. He then introduced us to his family, and his family introduced us to other families. Almost a year later, the families had formed eight home groups and reached nearly 80 kids, both in the surrounding area and in the nearby refugee camps. A woman, who belongs to one of the home groups, began to invite the 30 kids who played in her neighborhood to her house telling them Bible stories and teaching them how to read. (Most of them do not have access to education.)

Through NEO Leaders1 , we reach out to poor areas where ministry is needed. We do community work, we work with children, we send medical teams, and of course, we focus on discipleship and training leaders. We started a ministry with local leaders a couple of kilometers away from Beirut with a house group of 20 people and a children’s ministry. Before lockdown, we had been training the house group members to start more groups and reach out to their community. We have seen God move around us and through us in the past year. Those who come to our home groups or trainings tell others what they had learned.

Not everyone there welcomed our presence.

As part of our Discovery Bible studies in the North, attendees share with others the wonderful news they heard. Some receive threats and pressure because of that, but they press on regardless. For instance, when one of our current home group leaders first came to the faith, he shared the Good News with his employer. His employer fired him. Another found a message at his door saying, “If you don’t return to your faith, we will burn you alive.” Moreover, beside the Bible studies being a means for the gospel, the patients who are seen by our medical team do not leave without having heard of Christ. At times, more than 400 people meet us during a two-day trip, which sometimes brings unwanted attention. However, the threats have decreased as the work slowed down in the past few months due to our current reality (the pandemic, the failing economy, the roadblocks).

“Jesus answered my prayer!”

An old woman came to us sobbing. Her son-in-law wanted to divorce her daughter because, during the three years of their marriage, she hadn’t borne him a child. A week after we prayed for her, she came to us weeping and dancing for joy. Her daughter was pregnant with twins. She was elated as she cried out, “Jesus answered my prayer!”

A young man fell from the third floor. People thought he died. His mother came to me and said, “If he comes out of this alive, I will believe in Jesus.” We prayed for him, and sure enough, we later found out that while he had minor injuries, not one of his bones was fractured. We are witnessing many answers to prayer, and God is using this to draw people to Himself.

Theological training transformed my ministry.

Words cannot express my gratitude to ABTS. It hasn’t only helped me academically and theologically. It has transformed my ministry, my personal life and my spiritual walk. It is a huge part of who I am today. It has reshaped my understanding of the mission of God through the local church. Because of that, we strive to be missional at my local church and reach out to our community in any way we can. While the pastor of my church is away in England, I serve as an associate pastor, working on discipleship and follow up, sharing a message, and taking part in the worship and praise team.

I can also pass on what I learned at the seminary to others since much of my work centers on training emerging leaders to launch new ministries and plant churches. For instance, we recently trained new leaders to take on the new Bible study ministry that we launched in Mount Lebanon. I also train leaders with an organization called 10/40 Hope. I am the Regional Director, so I work with leaders in other countries and oversee the ministries there.

God continues to use us during the pandemic.

Our ministry has slowed down, but it hasn’t stopped. We simply moved online. We are using online platforms such as Zoom and WhatsApp for our home group studies. We met people who wouldn’t have joined us otherwise. We are also trying to help struggling Lebanese families through distributing food and hygiene packages. Moreover, we are filming videos that help train our staff.

Of course, we are all praying for Lebanon in these exceptional times. The Church must be active in ways it hasn’t been before. The time is now.


I ask you to pray for the groups with whom we work and those who are meeting Christ for the very first time. I lastly ask you to pray for me that I balance between service, family and studies. I have been studying for a Master’s in Global Leadership [hybrid courses] with Fuller Theological Seminary for the past month or so, and it is quite relevant to what I do.

Our graduates’ ministries are a good reminder that we serve a Mighty God. We are grateful to Him as we come alongside and train leaders like Elias who are the reason for our ministry. Join us in prayer for our graduates as they serve God in these critical times in different parts of the Arab world.
1NEO Leaders supports the work of many of our graduates around the Arab world.