Established in 1998, Raja al Umam (meaning “Hope for the Nations”) is the vision of a Middle Eastern pastor, Brother Khalaf, to launch an inter-denominational ministry organization sending Arab Christian workers to the Arab world. The overall purpose of Raja al Umam is to plant churches through mobilization of the Arab Church, training and sending church planters, and providing ongoing support and member care to these workers.
The heat of the day was no match for the fire of the Holy Spirit during a 2009 baptismal service led by Raja al Umam. Dozens of individuals, including three families and two Muslim-background believers, were baptized by Pastor Khalaf and two other pastors.
“After the scheduled individuals had been baptized, the other pastors and I were all wondering whether we should come out of the water or wait a little longer?” said one of the pastors. “As we talked and prayed, someone else would come, wanting to be baptized. People were coming into the water in their regular clothes to be baptized. It was the work of the Holy Spirit. We had originally planned to baptize just 20 people, but that day 60 believers were baptized in the river. Our God is powerfully at work in the Middle East.”"Our God is powerfully at work in the Middle East.”
With a population of 300 million people and only a handful of Christian workers per million, the Arab world presents a significant challenge to Christian ministry today. Because of the strict laws that restrict evangelism in many countries, churches in the Arab world have sometimes been content to simply “exist in an environment of non-confrontation” in order to maintain the small freedoms they enjoy. Raja al Umam believes that in order to see Christ transform the Arab world, it is essential that the Arab Church focus on outreach.
Partners International began partnering with Raja al Umam in 2007, our joint objective being to start a house church movement among unreached Arabs. It’s leader, Brother Khalaf, believes a key factor in reaching this objective is not only mobilizing Arab church leaders in a mission vision, but also sending out believers to plant house churches in the Arab world.
Over the years, Raja al Umam has trained hundreds of church leaders and youth through their mobilization courses. Currently, they have 55 church planters in the field, but their goal is to send 100 within the next three years.
“Never in history has the Arab world been so receptive to the Gospel as it is today,” said Brother Khalaf. “We need to take up the challenge and opportunity before us, as increasing numbers of people are showing interest in the Gospel.”
Church Planters, Raja al Umam
Church Planter Training, Raja al Umam
The purpose of this program is to provide training in church-planting techniques for individuals and couples preparing for ministry in restricted-access countries of the Arab world. In addition to church planting, the training focuses on character development, forgiveness, discipleship, inner healing, relationship building, and prayer. These topics are critically important as church planters are sent out into hostile environments with much opposition to the Gospel.
The training includes lectures, small group discussions, one-on-one mentoring, practical service, and outreach. The classes are taught by Raja al Umam staff as well as Arab and international church leaders. One trainee shared this after completing the course, “I’ve been a believer for a number of years now, and I thought I would know 80 percent of this course, but 99 percent was new to me! I was satisfied with my life and the few believers that meet in my house, but now God has given me a bigger vision for planting churches among my people.”
Just one example of the impact of the training program is seen in the Gulf, a region where Raja al Umam has been ministering for 13 years. One Gulf country was actually a stronghold for Christianity in the Arab Peninsula during the rise of Islam. Today, this country is one of the least reached in the world. Twenty-four million people have yet to hear the Gospel in a meaningful way. Over the years, the number of believers have increased to a few thousand, but Shariah law is strongly enforced and local believers take a tremendous risk to live out their faith. Though it is a very delicate and dangerous situation, believers are bravely stepping forward, desiring to be better equipped for ministry. Raja al Umam is equipping these believers through their training program. These are some of the few indigenous Christian leaders in the entire country.
Last year, Raja al Umam trained more than 280 people through their training program. In the year ahead, Raja al Umam hopes to hold church planter trainings in Sudan, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, North Africa, Mauritania, and the Gulf.
Women's Ministry Training, Raja al Umam
Because of the influence of Muslim culture, often women become Christians only to follow their husbands. For women who are mature believers, they too fall prey to a belief that they have no role to play in the Church. They are afflicted with a mindset that tells them they should just stay quietly at home. However, Arab women have a huge role and responsibility in reaching unreached women for Christ. They just need to be encouraged and equipped to step out and serve with confidence and boldness. For this reason, Raja al Umam is launching a new effort to train women for ministry. For women who are already serving, the training will focus on leadership, management, communication, and spiritual formation. A second track will focus on raising up new women leaders through conferences that share about biblical women, God’s calling for women, and identifying culture lies. Help an Arab woman find her place of purpose in God’s Kingdom by sponsoring her to attend a women’s conference.
Church Building-Training Center,Raja al Umam
Raja al Umam’s vision is to see a church-planting movement sweep across the Arab countries and cause a rapid multiplication of churches throughout the region. Not only would this movement help establish a locally-led Gospel witness among the native people, it would also support the fast-growing number of Muslim-background believers who are coming to faith in Christ.Raja al Umam has launched a new training initiative to cultivate ministry workers in countries they have not yet reached. With this new initiative, additional workers would be recruited, trained and sent, helping Raja al Umam move closer to their goal of having 150-200 workers on the field within three years. Gifts to this project would be used toward personal and family allowances, housing, medical expenses, transportation costs, and ministry expenses for new workers being trained. This year’s focus would be on Lebanon, Turkey, Bahrain, and the Gulf. Next year, they hope to expand to Libya and Tunisia. Pastor Khalaf believes that an intentional focus to expand their ministry in these countries will quickly advance the growth of God’s Kingdom in this unreached region of the world.