Statistics and personal testimonies paint a remarkable story of growth.
Published on: 04-28-2022
Ten years ago the Seventh-day Adventist Church formed the Middle East and North Africa Union Mission (MENAUM) to reach out to one of the world’s most difficult regions.
Only time will reveal the full impact of the landmark 2012 decision, but statistics and personal testimonies tell a story of remarkable church growth through the power of the Holy Spirit, church leaders say.
“It is clear that God is moving in the hearts of many, something for which we can thank God,” Rick McEdward, MENAUM president since 2016, said.
FLEXIBILITY AND MISSION SUPPORT
Ten years ago, with soul-searching and prayer, the world church established MENAUM from 20 countries that previously belonged to the Trans-European Division and the Euro-Africa Division (now Inter-European Division). The unprecedented decision also attached MENAUM directly to the world church headquarters and reorganized its services for greater flexibility and support in its mission.
At the time of its organization, MENAUM reported about 3,100 members among a population of 525 million, or one Adventist for every 170,000 people. By 2021 membership had grown by 82 percent to 5,668 people, or one Adventist for every 97,000 people in a region whose population had expanded to 550 million. In addition, the number of house churches more than tripled from 25 to 85 between 2016 and 2021, and the number of small groups increased from 65 in 2017, the first year they were reported, to 157 in 2021.
McEdward saw the figures as encouraging.
“But even with this commendable growth, the odds are daunting,” he added. “Today, with one member for every 97,000 people, the chance of someone meeting one of our members and hearing the gospel is so very small.”
Only the Holy Spirit can defy the odds and lead people to a church member who can touch them with God’s love, he said.
People under the age of 35 represent the largest group to be reached with the gospel in the Middle East.
“Engaging this group, much less speaking to their complex world, presents us with a constantly changing, ever-growing challenge,” ChanMin Chung, director of MENAUM Trans Media Group, said. The recently formed multimedia organization is tasked with communicating to both the young and old in the region.
MENAUM is a challenging field to work, church leaders said. People give their hearts to Jesus in the shadow of national crises, social unrest, economic collapse, immigration, war, and personal trauma.
WORKERS FOR GOD
McEdward said that MENAUM has reaped great benefits from the support of the world church, the creativity of the church leaders who shaped the Middle East and North Africa Union Mission 10 years ago, and the faithful service of workers from every country in the region and others from around the world.
“But the challenges are too great for anyone to claim success, solutions, or self-satisfaction,” he said.
“Every day, with its seemingly unbeatable challenges, serves as a reminder that the field, the people, and the harvest all belong to the Lord of the harvest,” McEdward said.
“We are privileged just to be His workers,” he said.