Reaching and discipling Muslim communities through Christian literature, training, and visitation
Ministry Vision & Strategy
Union Church Ministries grew out of a local church that was formed in the 1960s by foreigners who were living and working in North Africa. In the late 1980s, the church experienced revitalization and in the years following they established a deeper focus on outreach. UCM remains committed to this outreach goal and is working to strengthen expatriate believers while also discreetly reaching out to the local Muslim community.
Prison Walls Don't Stop God's Love
UCM’s director shares just a few of many miracles happening within their prison ministry. “Miss Amina, a Muslim mother, could not hold back her tears when we helped her daughter (who had been living in the prison with her) go to a special home and enroll in school. Amina has given her life to the Lord. “So many women have come to Christ in one prison that the warden sent us a complaint. In particular, six of them refuse to have anything to do with their old religion. they are ready to die for their faith. “One prisoner was held for 25 years for importing Christian tracts into the country. He was active in the prison fellowship for eight years, trusting his case to Almighty God. In April 2009 he was released. To date, 15 released prisoners have been baptized.”
With 160 million Muslims, North Africa is a stronghold of Islam that at times seems impenetrable. The majority of North African countries have less then one-tenth of a percent of evangelicals. Many of these countries allow a Christian presence, but only among foreigners. Open evangelism of local people is forbidden by the government. In some countries, Christian printed materials are not allowed in, thus many have never seen a Bible or Christian literature in their own language.
Despite such great barriers, work is being done to advance the Gospel in these “closed” countries. Believers are willing to take the chance of being caught, beaten, or imprisoned to share the Good News with their friends and neighbors.
Though it is an Islamic police state, the atmosphere in the country where our partner Union Church Ministries (UCM) works has changed considerably in recent years. The people are noticeably more friendly and open. The Christian Church is benefiting from this change and is experiencing more freedom.
Despite the current dominance of Islam, North Africa has a rich Christian heritage and many North Africans were believers before Islam came to the region. UCM desires to see the people of North Africa return to their historic roots as followers of Jesus Christ.
>CHURCH PLANTERS: $625 per month per church-planting couple
Church Planting, UCM
The country where UCM is working is more than 95% Islamic. Yet, it has a rich Christian history, and many churches thrived there prior to Islam. Recent history indicates that the church was active until the revolution that ushered in an Islamic state in the 1960s. Since then, the church has gone underground.
There is a large expatriate community living and working in the country, but most are nominal Christians or are unsaved. Only expatriates are permitted to worship openly and freely. Attempts to evangelize the local community are extremely risky and must be done discreetly.
Because of the recent unrest throughout the region, no one is sure how the local churches will be affected long term. However, one thing is certain—many expatriates have left the country and it will be up to the local believers to continue sharing Christ and discipling believers.
This year, Partners would like to help UCM send out two church-planting families to minister to expatriates and locals and plant new churches.
>DUPLICATION PROJECT: $6,250 for project
Duplication Project, UCM
A number of Christian radio and satellite programs reach North Africa. After hearing the Gospel, many North Africans will seek out expatriate Christians to learn more about Christianity and to ask questions about their faith. However, importing Christian printed materials is not permitted in most areas. Without Bibles or Christian materials to help them learn more, these seekers will not have the opportunity to know the Gospel or grow in their faith.
To meet the need for discipleship materials, several years ago UCM created a translation and duplication center to produce Christian literature locally. Through this project, many of the local people have received Christian audio, visual, and printed materials. This year, UCM’s goal is to distribute 4,000 videos as well as 170,000 pieces of Christian literature in Arabic, French, and English. Partners would like to help upgrade the duplication center’s equipment by providing a digital video camera, a DVD copier, paper, blank DVDs and CDs, and cover the costs of one translator. As the work of the duplication center continues, these additional tools are needed to further the dissemination of God’s Word throughout the region.
>FRIENDSHIP HOUSE: $2,115 per month
Friendship House, UCM
UCM operates a creative outreach program called the Friendship House. Located in a popular Mediterranean vacation destination and transit point, many North Africans come through the area on holiday. Staffed by Christian leaders, the Friendship House is a natural and non-threatening way to make friends with the many North Africans they meet. The team is able to distribute Bibles, tracts, and copies of the Jesus film as well as build friendships and get involved in spiritual conversations. Because the travelers are less afraid of being watched as they vacation and because of the friendly nature of the center’s leaders, there are many opportunities for the team to discuss spiritual things. The team makes contact with an average of 2,000 North Africans each month through this unique project. In addition to outreach, the facility is used for discipleship meetings and training programs for local believers. In 2009, it expanded its efforts to include media production and internet evangelism. Partners would like to help cover the expenses of operating the Friendship House including rent, utilities, training costs, and support for one of the leaders.
>PRISON MINISTRY: $25 per female prisoner, $15 per male prisoner
Prison Ministry, UCM
Years ago, after a community of Africans clashed with locals resulting in 300 deaths, UCM ministered to the families in need, providing food and basic necessities. Several years later, the government was struggling to provide even the most basic necessities to the inmates in their prisons. The guards remembered the help the church had given years before and invited church members to help at the prisons. Again, the church took up the challenge and since 2005, UCM has been given access to the prisoners in six jails.
Each prison holds about 500 male inmates, plus some women inmates with their children who are imprisoned with their mothers. UCM works with four pastors who speak French, English, Arabic and other languages, and with some 20 volunteers who visit prisoners twice a week. Besides food, the church provides toiletries, blankets, and clothes for the male inmates. Women inmates receive the same, as well as baby clothes and food for their children. The UCM team has found this to be an excellent opportunity to share God’s love. The pastors are given the opportunity to hold meetings with the prisoners that include worship and preaching of the Word.
When the work started, the attendees were all Sub-Saharan African, but now many indigenous people attend as well. They are bound by law to remain Muslims, and had never received the truth about Christianity before their time in prison. This outreach is a unique opportunity to transform lives in this closed country. We aim to help 2,000 male inmates and 300 women and their children through this project this year.