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Meet the Good News Arabic Ministries
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By Mike Toth

The London Public Library Central Branch policy of allowing various groups to set up tables in the main hallway has lead to a sometimes lively and eclectic sampling of free speech in Canada. The tables represent a bewildering array of interests, from public health and awareness, to fundraising and volunteer drives, with many languages represented. If you have experienced these “living books” out side of the library I hope you stopped at a table with a distinguished and kind looking man with a table full of material in Arabic.

Sameh Sultan is an evangelist with The Good News Arabic Ministries. For fourteen months he and other volunteers have been at the library three times a week engaging with anyone who is willing to stop and talk.

"We have had contact with more than 1,200 individuals from Middle Eastern countries,” says Sultan. “We have been able to distribute over 2,000 Arabic language CD’s. Our goal is to continue personal contact with those who are interested."

It may be surprising in light of all the news out of the Middle East these days, but Arab Christianity is as old as the faith itself. For instance, there has been a presence of Chaldean and Assyrian Christians in the city of Mosul, in Iraq, for 2,000 years. Unfortunately, recent events have seen believers in the city flee.

"Christians in the Middle East are not a part of a tribe like other Arabs are, leading to greater insecurity," says Rand Luka, leader of the Arabic Fellowship. "You could fall under the protection of a tribe temporarily, but a change in leadership, or really anything, can end the protection."

The penchant in the West to try to solve Middle East conflicts with weapons has lead to a lack of effort to understand the culture. This leads to immigration policies that may be less effective at discerning which refugees are persecuted people, and which others may be of less need to emigrate. Outreaches, such as those of Good News, attempt to meet those who do make it to Canada.

"I am so grateful for the reception we have had at churches like West London Alliance and Harvest," says Luka. "It's important that Arab Christians are welcomed into the 'inner circle' of the church (rather than left on the periphery). It's important to be invited to serve, to volunteer, to be a part of the team."

"It is a part of our culture that we tend to not force our way into conversations and situations, especially when there is a language barrier. It is important to be welcomed."

"In our country we were bible teachers, deacons, we came from strong bible believing churches," adds Sultan.

"I had to ask myself, 'What do we have to give the Canadian church?'" says Luka. "We speak Arabic. There is an opportunity to join hands with the Canadian church in declaring God's message in our own language."

How can the rest of us help, though we don’t speak the language?

"There is a need for all kinds of support, from housing to jobs to food," says Sultan. "Even sponsorship of Christian refugees is an area of outreach. There are other groups who are reaching some of these refugees and we need to be meeting this opportunity."

The Good News Arabic Ministries meets at West London Alliance Church on Sundays at 5 pm. As translation services are often available knowledge of Arabic is optional.

The symbol at the top of this article is an N the first letter of Nasrani, an Arabic term for a Christian.