Middle East and North Africa Union

The early morning mist filled the valleys and ascended the hills toward our house as I heard the first call to prayer from the mosque below. Five times a day, thousands of believers in the community stopped whatever they were doing to pray. I, too, made a habit of praying when I heard the mournful call. I prayed that these people would come to have a deeper knowledge of God and that the Adventist workers in the region would have a burning desire to share Him.

More than five years ago, our family, including three children all less than eight years old, traded the cold winters of Wisconsin, United States, for the sunny Mediterranean. After three flights and 30 hours of travel, we arrived at our new home, where we would stay for the next three years. We were excited to join an international team of missionaries and tentmakers who were working to spread the gospel among the millions of people living in the Middle East.

One of our jobs was to provide Adventist books and other printed materials for each of the 20 countries in our assigned territory. This area included four major languages along with a multitude of dialects. Additionally, in the more than 30 years since the Adventist Church had published books in the region, publishing methods had changed drastically from analog to digital. There were no digital files and very few hard copies of books that had been translated and printed in the past.

One of our first projects was to create the digital files so that books and tracts could be published, but neither Marshall nor I knew the language. He prayed about how to get this project started and felt compelled to employ local Adventist young people to create the digital files. It was the answer we needed! These young people made it possible for books to be produced quickly and made available for literature evangelists to sell in local communities.

Our region had its share of unrest, and the possible need to evacuate was always in the back of our minds. We prayed for wisdom to know when it was best to leave the area and when it was best to stay. Every time we left our home, we knew we might never be able to return. By God’s grace, we never faced this reality, but other missionaries in the region, unfortunately, did.

Conflict in Syria filled our country with refugees. A simple idea, the courage of young people, and the vision of administrators laid the foundation for reaching these families with the gospel. While on vacation, we encouraged a group of college students to come on a short-term mission trip to share health principles with the local refugee community. We also helped facilitate translators and transportation for the students. In less than 10 days, this small group served 800 people and connected with key contacts in the refugee community.

One opportunity sometimes led to another. Once, our team held health screening services specifically for Syrian refugees. The contacts they made later led to the establishment of a school that provides basic education to refugee children, ministry to their families, and church services that their parents attend. Although we weren’t as directly involved with helping the refugees as others in our team, we visited their homes, listened to their stories, and continued to pray for them.

Our work included traveling to many countries in the Middle East to encourage local believers and provide support for outreach initiatives. Every trip brought new inspiration as we met to train and inspire other expatriates and local believers who were working in countries where it was difficult to share the gospel.

Often, it seemed as if our efforts were very small in the face of the challenges of multiple languages, limited resources, and millions of unreached people. Our work seemed like one drop in a huge bucket. But we continued to be encouraged by the pen of Inspiration: “But the little rill that makes its noiseless way through grove and meadow, bearing health and fertility and beauty, is as useful in its way as the broad river. And in contributing to the river’s life, it helps achieve that which alone it could never have accomplished.” *

Wherever you are, you can support the work in the Middle East with your prayers, your funds, and as the Lord opens the way, your hands and feet.

* Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press®, 1903), 117.

Your weekly mission offerings help support the ministry of the Adventist Church in the Middle East and North Africa. Thank you!

The Adventist Learning Center (ALC)

Learn more about the school for refugee children that Rosemary’s team helped establish in Lebanon.

Rosemary McKenzie Originally from the United States, Rosemary McKenzie served as a missionary in the Middle East with her husband Marshall and their children.