What does MERF do?

MERF's Various Ministries

MERF is engaged in serving Christ in His world. As an instrument in the hands of the Redeemer, it aims to serve where and how Christ leads. MERF seeks to encourage and strengthen the Church throughout the Middle East, North and East Africa, as well as Indonesia and Pakistan. Non-Christians are responding to the challenge of the Gospel of Christ. They are being discipled by national Christians. Those in need are being helped spiritually and materially. The Lord Jesus Christ has raised up indigenous missionaries to serve Him in Arab and Muslim lands. These workers serve under local Reformed and Presbyterian churches. Our ministries include:

1. Evangelistic Outreach

MERF is moving forward with an indigenous God-centered outreach to all people in its sphere of ministry. This is to be carried out especially through the support of national evangelists and the use of the media such as radio, print, and internet. We seek to commend the gospel to our hearers by speaking the truth in love. MERF is reaching Muslims and others through gospel broadcasts, websites, and literature in the Arabic (targeting 340 million in 22 nations), Farsi (reaching Iran, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan), Dinka and Nuer of South Sudan), Amharic and Oromo (Ethiopia), Somali (covering the Horn of Africa) and the five Indonesian languages: Javannese, Sundanese, Bugis, Makassar and Toraja. Preparations are underway for airing Gospel messages in the Urdu language of Pakistan.

2. Biblical Training

MERF is discipling converts and church leaders by equipping those already knowledgeable in local language and culture. MERF provides solid biblical and theological instruction for leaders and potential leaders with specific programs and seminars. This training frequently employs pastors and teachers from English-speaking countries who provide short-term modules of instruction.

3. Church Planting

MERF is helping nationals build healthy and sound congregations where they are needed. This is always done in consultation with and under the supervision of an indigenous ecclesiastical body. We do not seek to form new denominations. MERF is helping expand the Kingdom of Jesus Christ through trained nationals working in Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Chad, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, the Arabian Gulf and Indonesia.

4. Diaconal Aid

MERF reaches out with Christ's compassion for the suffering. Based on biblical principles, this work of mercy is exercised by a consistent ministry of word and deed (Gal. 6:10). In response to the command, "doing good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Gal. 6:10), MERF is ready to serve the needs of God's people and others in the name of Christ. Such works of mercy are always administered by means of volunteers and under guidance of the local churches. We are careful to avoid the recipients' dependence on foreign aid.

Evangelistic Outreach

Evangelism

An indigenous, God-centered and church-directed outreach is at the heart of MERF's strategy. In these times of instability and anxiety, the Holy Spirit seems to be preparing many to receive Christ as God's only true peace offering. Almost all the countries in which the Fellowship is involved have for a long time not allowed the existence of active foreign missions. "But the Word of God is not chained." (2 Timothy 2:9); the Lord does not leave himself without a testimony. He sovereignly rules and directs all events of history for the service of the ultimate good: the gathering and perfecting of His people. In His unsurpassed wisdom, not only has the faithful Gospel witness in the region been protected from the subversion of western modernist and man-centered trends, but He has also prepared His people in the region to carry on with the Great Commission. The Lord has raised faithful national believers who have the gifts and zeal to do the job relevantly and effectively -- at a fraction of the cost of expatriate missionaries. Thus, recognizing the importance of indigenous evangelists and the effective, far-reaching impact of the media, MERF moves zealously towards reaching the unreached millions of the region.

National Evangelists

National evangelists know the circumstances, language and culture of their own people; by God's grace they are able to wisely do the work of evangelism despite the restrictions of the authorities. They do not need visas or work permits. But they do need preparatory training and an on-going program of instruction, oversight and nourishment in connection with the particular regional church bodies under which they work. Central to MERF's evangelistic strategy is its involvement in recruiting, training and supporting national evangelists. The support and training of evangelists is always under the oversight of ecclesiastical bodies. This has proven to be not only relevant to the closed countries of the Muslim world but also the most cost-effective means of doing missions.

Broadcasts

Gospel Radio Broadcasts

MERF's broadcasts bring God's Word to millions of Arabic-speaking people who live in the 22 nations of the Arab League, and to millions of Farsi-speaking people in Iran, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan. In addition MERF broadcasts teams also reach millions of people in East Africa, Pakistan and Indonesia.MERF's Gospel broadcasts are designed to bring to light the full impact of human sinfulness as it contrasts with the riches of Christ's redemptive grace. Personalized follow-up of listeners responding to the broadcasts is provided by means of correspondence and literature, which often leads to pastoral visitation and discipling by trained local Christians. MERF's Gospel broadcasts are designed to bring to light the full impact of human sinfulness and the remedy found in the riches of Christ's redemptive grace. Many have come to know Christ in places where no churches or foreign missionaries exist.

Arabic Broadcasts

Through its lively radio broadcasts, MERF is bringing Christ to closed Arab lands. Arabic gospel programs are produced by teams of Arab believers. Every night over 340 million Arabs can tune in to a thought-provoking, conversational broadcast on a popular radio station.

Hundreds reply by text message, email, or letter and receive personal follow-up.

Other Broadcasts

MERF broadcast teams proclaim the good news to listeners in other native tongues:

  • Dinka and Nuer--South Sudan tribal people
  • Amharic, Oromo, & Somali--Ethiopia and Somalia
  • Farsi--Iran and Afghanistan
  • Javanese, Sundanese, Toraja, Makassarese & Bugis--Indonesia
  • Urdu--Pakistan (in preparation)

Arabic Broadcast Schedule

Station
Middle East Time
Day(s)
Band
Frequency
Radio Monte Carlo (Cyprus)
22:30-22:45
Mon-Tue-Wed-Thur-Fri
MW 243m
1233KHz
Radio Monte Carlo (Cyprus)
23:15-23:30
Sat-Sun
MW 243m
1233KHz
Radio Monte Carlo (Monaco)
22:30-22:45
Sat and Sun
MW 205m
1467KHz

 

Internet Outreach

The Web has become a major means which the Lord is using to reach Muslim people. It provides freedom for people to read and download the Bible in closed countries such as Saudi Arabia. Moreover, through websites, e-mail, social media and instantaneous contact through text messaging many more doors have been opened for ministry to many more people. Growing numbers of trained MERF workers are now engaged in these ministries.

About two-thirds of the Arab population is under thirty-six years of age. In God's providence, MERF's Arabic electronic-media staff is mostly in this age group. For several years, our strategy has focused on reaching youth. By God's grace, the Arabic ministry teams have been in the forefront of using information technology for gospel proclamation. They use themes in tune with the questions, concerns, and aspirations of young people.

"Dardasha"(Chatting) is the new name of the Arabic ministry website. The name deliberately targets younger listeners. About 5,000 go to this site every month. Linking the radio broadcasts to the website has attracted many to the "Dardasha 7 Forum"—which already includes more than 700 members from Muslim backgrounds—to discuss in more detail subjects raised in the broadcasts. Discussions on the forum enable the trained follow-up volunteers to better understand and reply to listeners than when they only receive a brief email or SMS telephone messages. These volunteers ultimately aim to disciple those who prove to have abiding interest in following Christ. The number of serious seekers continues to rapidly expand from countries like Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian West Bank, and Egypt.

The website also provides opportunities to read and download passages from the Arabic Bible which is not widely available otherwise. Also, a sizeable number of relevant Arabic books and articles designed to help Muslims understand the Christian faith and deal with frequently asked questions are downloadable from the site.

Additionally, MERF operates a Farsi ministry website, reaching out to Iranians, Afghans, and Tajikistanis with hope and truth. This website is updated regularly with articles expounding selections of the Scriptures. Audio files of our Farsi radio broadcasts are also available for Farsi speakers to listen to or download. Please pray for the work of the Farsi ministry especially in the country of Iran.

Literature Distribution

Publishing and circulating sound Reformed literature in local languages has from the very beginning been at the heart of MERF's indigenous strategy. In addition to several simple evangelistic tracts and pamphlets, MERF has been involved in translating and publishing more substantial works in local languages. As a result of training endeavors, the Fellowship has decided to encourage gifted nationals to write suitable materials in their own native language. MERF's literature projects fall into three categories:

1. Evangelism and Discipleship

Especially designed to meet the growing needs of inquiring Muslims.

2. Bible Study Aids

Materials which encourage the proper study and understanding of the Scriptures, including commentaries.

3. Theological Resources

Designed to help indigenous churches become better grounded in the different aspects of Reformed theology.

Solid English books are being put into the hands of bilingual church leaders, but translation of key materials into local languages benefits many more. Because few churches and Christian workers in the Middle East, North Africa, and Muslim lands have the means to invest in a library, MERF heavily subsidies the cost to those in service to Christ. Literature is made available to evangelical and reformed churches in these nations by special notices at conferences and assemblies, Bible schools, and training events. It is also much appreciated by members of traditional churches (Orthodox, Maronite, Catholic, etc.) and Muslim seekers. Literature is also an important part of follow-up of Gospel radio broadcast listeners, and it figures prominently in the Arabic website outreach. The following are some projects we are currently working on:

Amharic Translations

In Ethiopia there is much interest in the Amharic commentary on the epistle to the Hebrews by Hailu Mekonnen published last year. Just off the press is the Amharic translation of the Heidelberg Catechism. Literature distribution to outlying areas can be challenging in vast Ethiopia and in the recently divided country of Sudan.

Nuer Publications

A golden opportunity came late last November, when southern tribal Christians living in Khartoum, North Sudan, packed up to return south to vote for partition in their home communities. MERF printed 5,000 simplified Westminster Children's Catechism booklets in Nuer, a major tribal language, as a home-going gift. The Nuer pastor organizing buses of returnees sent these for pastors, evangelists, and school teachers in villages and towns across South Sudan. In this largely rural, undeveloped infant nation, books are scarce and schools are few. These little Catechism booklets can serve as the backbone of a Christian school curriculum. Please pray with us that pastors and teachers will catch the vision of using the Catechism to ground the next generation in the truths of God's Word.

Farsi & Arabic Titles

In Iran the growing underground church hungers for sound biblical literature. Thus, the Farsi (Persian) language translation of Stuart Olyott's The Three Are One (on the Trinity) and Son of Mary, Son of God (on the two natures of Christ) are being reprinted together in a single volume. The Arabic translations of commentaries by Stuart Olyott, Confessing Christ by Calvin Knox Cummings (used for discipleship of Muslim converts and to prepare individuals for public profession of faith and church membership), and the Arabic summary of Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion are in high-demand and are thus being reprinted and distributed.

The Arabic Heidelberg Catechism will be ready to print soon, as well as a volume on biblical worship and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Literature for Closed Countries

The internet is opening up doors for literature distribution. All the Arabic books mentioned, and more, can be downloaded from the ministry website from any "closed" Arab country.