Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Our most recent missionary outreach was an eventful ten days, as the Lord richly blessed both us and those to whom we ministered. We brought the Gospel and humanitarian aid to the Iraqi and Kurdish Syrian people of Erbil area, the Nineveh Plain, and plan to return at the end of May for another ten days.
It was an amazing trip as we distributed 750 food parcels, mostly to Muslim Kurdish Syrian refugees. We also gave away 650 units of cleaning materials. These are crucial as it is important for Christians to not only meet the spiritual needs of people, but also their physical needs. We distributed numerous Bibles and 750 audio Bibles, as well.
Sharing the Gospel
We had five evangelical evening meetings where I got to preach the Gospel to gatherings of about 125 refugees each time. I preached on grace, forgiveness, and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Besides Muslims, quite a few in the assembly included those who I refer to as “nominal Christians.” These are people who claim to believe in Jesus, but have a wrong view of saving faith. Many believe in salvation by works, so it was important that I teach about the grace of God and following the Gospel meetings we distributed aid (cleaning materials)
During the days, we gave out a multitude of Bibles to Muslim refugees; both book Bibles as well as audio Bibles. Most of the Bibles were in the Arabic language and others in Kurdish mainly to taxi drivers as we travelled around. We also handed out many children’s Bibles. We were really touched when someone told us about a ten-year-old boy we had given an audio Bible to the last time we were in Iraq. We were told that this boy listens to his audio Bible all the time and tells everyone about it. It’s truly heart-warming.
We also plan to buy 500 full Bibles and give them to local churches so they can hand them out to the people we can’t reach. Whether it is our team or the local churches distributing the Bibles, it doesn’t matter to me. The most important thing is that the Word of God is getting into the hands of those who need it so desperately.
Though most Muslims we come in contact with are open to receiving Bibles and talking about Jesus, some are not so receptive. One day a Muslim man asked us for several Bibles, so we gave one to him. A neighbour of his later told us that this man was very much against the message of the Gospel, and wanted as many Bibles as he could get so that he could burn them. So, we do face opposition, but mostly our experiences with Iraqi Muslims are good and productive.
And it isn’t always refugees and those who are struggling financially that we minister to. We hand out Bibles to soldiers, police officers, and taxi drivers … anyone who will accept one.
A New Resource
During this trip we also distributed evangelical calendars. Even though we were almost five months into the year, the calendars were still useful because they contained Bible messages on every page. The calendars are new for us. Early in the trip, I was in a Christian bookshop in Erbil searching for a particular book, and I saw this calendar. I asked the salesman if he had more of them, and he said yes. I took many of them and later more, because I thought to myself, “This is a really good way to share the Gospel.” The calendars, which are in Arabic, are manufactured in German and shipped to Iraq. These are not like other Christian calendars which just have a verse and a picture; these have an actual message, something like “Our Daily Bread.” These are very evangelical messages.
One of the very sad parts about our Gospel outreaches in Iraq is that we meet many children with heart conditions which require surgery, medicine, or some other form of care, but can’t afford them. We do what we can financially, but, of course, are resources are limited. I have been in contact with an Israeli organization called SACH – Save a Child’s Heart – to see if they can help these children.
One day in particular stands out to me. We visited a refugee centre, but were without a translator. However, the Lord provided a translator who had learned to speak English while he was in prison as a POW in Iran. He spent over 10 years in prison in Iran. He was able to help us deliver the message of salvation in Jesus to the people who were in the room, gathered to celebrate the first communion of some children.
Another time, in Erbil, because we were very busy, we decided to take a day off to relax and sight sees. Even in days like these, though, the Lord gives us opportunities. For instance, a man we have met in the past, a Kurdish Muslim, stopped us and asked for a Bible. We gave him a regular Bible as well as an audio Bible. This happens often as we meet people in the streets to whom we can minister. Whenever we take a taxi, we always give Kurdish new testaments to the drivers.
Also during that “day off,” we came across two young men, one of whom was wearing a cross. Despite this, both were Muslim. We had a great conversation and handed them each a New Testament in Arabic, and they were both so happy. I’ve been doing street evangelism for many years, and I never cease to be amazed at how the Lord continues to open the door for opportunities to share the Gospel.
Another time, we gave away a Bengali audio Bible to a worker in a coffee shop. While we were there, we ended up giving audio Bibles and New Testaments to some Iraqi army officers, a general, and a colonel. They were so grateful to receive these gifts and a few days later we met one of these men in a coffee shop and two friends one a local Pastor spoke to him about the Gospel .
Be Active in Sharing
I want to encourage all of you to be active in sharing the Gospel. It really is true that if anyone leaves this life without having come to the Lord Jesus through repentance and faith , he or she will go to Hell. We as Christians should not be ashamed of the Gospel. We have a wonderful message to share, and that message truly is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who will believe. We cannot be silent about this message; we must tell it to the people God brings into our lives.
A Word of Thanks
Please continue to pray for us as we minister in Israel – where I live – and in Iraq and Greece, meeting people daily, all of them in desperate need of the saving power of Jesus Christ. And Gospel preached be it on the street in one-on-meetings, or in our evening evangelical services. Pray that God will use all of these resources to change the heart of the people of Iraq.
We thank you so much for your prayers and support, and ask that you would continue in both. May the Lord bless you and protect you in these very challenging days.
Antony and Dona Simon, and the Voice in the Wilderness team
Some points for prayer
- Dona had an operation a few days ago, a growth on her thyroid , and her recovery.
- For our daily evangelism in Israel in Jerusalem and other cities.
- Our trips to Iraq and the distribution of audio bibles and bibles and aid to needy families and our preaching the gospel to nominal Christians.
- The distribution of Arabic literature to Muslims in the Judea and Samaria .
- For teams that come over on a short term basis to help us.