For more than 10 years Impact Middle East has sought “to empower Arab Christ-followers to share the grace and truth of Jesus among the least reached and to establish creative, reproducing faith families throughout the Middle East.”
From its beginning IME has pursued its mission in partnership with Free Methodist World Missions. In fact, the Executive Directors of IME — Dr. Blake Wood, Dr. Henry Church, and now Dr. Dale Woods — have all served FMWM as Area Directors for North Africa and the Middle East. In other words, IME is the arm or agency that represents the FMC mission in the Middle East and Northern Africa.
You may wonder, why work that way, through what appears to be an organization different from our Church? That is a good question, to which there are good answers. First and foremost, perhaps, is the fact that generally speaking our work in the Middle East is not open to churches and missionaries from the western world. Attempting to offer ministry in the name of a church based in the U.S. would be impossible in some of the places where we currently have thriving work, and unnecessarily burdensome in the rest of the region. Early on it became apparent to our missionaries working in the region that establishing an NGO that is not a church or a denominational missionary enterprise, per se, would facilitate our workers in entering and then working in this part of the world. In addition, IME has potential for wider appeal in terms of raising awareness, prayer support, partnerships and also funding for the actual work of the mission than would be the case otherwise. Relatedly, in some areas where the Lord is opening doors to our work, it is nearly impossible for church groups to secure government authorization to function. On the other hand, organizations such as IME have easier access.
In recent months and years the Middle East has often been in the news, hardly ever in a good light. We read of tragic and brutal acts of militants against their rivals but also against innocent children and women. We read of atrocities that are truly unspeakable. What many people do not know is that in these very dark corners of the world, there are also powerful movements of Jesus starting and growing. We are thrilled that the Free Methodist Church, serving the region through Impact Middle East is on the forefront of such movements. For example, well over 1500 house churches have been planted in some of the most resistant areas of the Middle East through IME workers in partnership with Free Methodist World Missions. As I write, the entire world is hearing about the crisis of displaced persons from Syria and elsewhere. We are hearing about many nations considering how they will respond. As the world’s nations think about what they might be willing to do, a Free Methodist Church in Amman, Jordan, has been leading the way in offering welcome, shelter, and help to thousands of refugees. Indeed, they began ministering in these ways long before it became the news it is today. IME and the Free Methodist Church are in the middle of such redemptive action, and have been for years. I could say much more.
Nearly every day, I find myself reflecting upon what God is doing in some of the most troubled places on planet Earth. When I do, my mind and heart quickly “move” to the Middle East and prayers of praise and petition flow. I hope you will join me in fervent support of this part of the broader Free Methodist Mission in grateful partnership with Impact Middle East.
David W. Kendall, Bishop FMC-USA