HOW CAN WE SING
THE LORD’S SONG IN A FOREIGN LAND?
Miles from their homes, migrant communities find comfort and joy through MegaVoice audio Bibles.
When Adom* wakes up, it’s still dark outside. It is Sunday. If he was home, his wife would be preparing his favorite breakfast, ful: slow-cooked fava beans with a softly boiled egg, fresh parsley, and warm pita, just like he likes. And then they would walk to church together. But Adom is not at home and hasn’t seen the inside of a church in a long time. The seven other men that share this small apartment with him start to stir, whispering to each other in Arabic. He will wait his turn to use the singular bathroom and then head to work. His work day begins as the sun rises and he won’t return to the apartment until after it sets. Rain or shine. Seven days a week.
Caring for migrants
Adom is a Coptic Christian and Egyptian migrant. He paid 1600 Kuwaiti Dinars (approximately $5000 USD) to obtain the work and residence permits necessary to live and work in Kuwait. Many in this migrant community take positions in grueling industries (like construction) with low salaries. In the summer months, the temperature can easily exceed 115ºF. After all this hard work, a very small amount of their earnings stay with them. The rest is remittance, sent home to Egypt and their loved ones.
The Bible Society in the Gulf (BSG) has been working with local Arabic churches in Kuwait to minister to this community of people. “It is so important to care for these migrant communities, wherever they are,” says Dr. Hrayr Jebejian, General Secretary of BSG. “Migrant workers in general (and Egyptian migrant workers in this case) come to Kuwait and other Gulf countries for economic reasons. The migrant workers come from so-called third world countries and usually from a community of extreme poverty.” This desperation can lead to a very low quality of life. The jobs of many Coptic Christian migrants, for example, do not leave them spare time to attend church gatherings.
So BSG and local churches started going to them: teaching and distributing Arabic MegaVoice audio Bibles.
MegaVoice and migrant ministry
“MegaVoice, in this case, has a dual impact,” says Dr. Jebejian. “It first serves as a tool for those who can not read to engage with the Message (and we need to note that a big number of migrant workers who come to the region are illiterate). The second, it serves as a church service.” For the large number of migrant workers who can not attend church services, MegaVoice “acts as a church service, helping them to be engaged with the Word of God.”
Brother Medhat, in charge of the outreach ministry in the Brethren Church, says, “The BSG ministry among migrants is of great help to all churches and to us. The Bibles we receive every year enable us to reach many Christians all over Kuwait. In the last 5 years we managed, with the help of God and the support of the BSG, to distribute hundreds of Bibles and see many lives changed as a result. The response has been tremendous.” Yousef Sabry, a BSG representative says, “Every time I visit and share the Word of God with them, they ask me to repeat it all over again because, as they say to me, ‘the Word of God is the only hope we have in such a very hard life’.”
In Singapore, Charissa Heng is also using MegaVoice audio Bibles in her ministry with migrants. “I started handing out scripture literature in the heart language of migrant workers in the year 2000,” she says. “My father, who is a pastor, has always shown kindness to foreigners as he says the Bible teaches us to be kind to strangers in our land.” After seeing MegaVoice audio Bibles used while on a mission trip in Cambodia, she and her sister decided to distribute them among the migrant community in their home country and have received overwhelmingly positive feedback. “99% of them enjoy the MegaVoices. Some bring the devices back to let their families listen to them in the hope that they too will follow Jesus.”
Just do it
“When [people in this community] are engaged with the Word of God,” Dr. Jebejian said, “they become completely different people. Their lives are filled with hope… they are so eager to share what they have found with others.” Meena, another migrant worker, supported Dr. Jebejian’s statement, saying, “We love Jesus and we love the Word of God. But it is difficult to go to church because of the nature of our work… The MegaVoice player I received made a difference in my life, for it helps me to listen to God’s Word all the time. I am not only listening and hearing it but I am also starting to apply it in my daily life.”
“Their new life with Jesus becomes the greatest fortune for them and they do not want to keep it for themselves,” concludes Dr. Jebejian. “They want to share with other fellow workers the joy they have found… These migrant workers become evangelists.”
During the Christmas season, our migrant friends remind us of Mary and Joseph. Like the migrants mentioned above, they too were members of a religious minority traveling great distances in an occupied land – a land with seemingly no room or place for them. It was into this that the Light of the World was born. When asked how to best care for our migrant brothers and sisters, Heng says, “It’s simple, just do it. Invest in the lives of those whom God has sent right to our doorstep. We don’t need to travel to the mission field, God has sent the mission field to us.”
“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”
MegaVoice is privileged to partner with the Bible Society in the Gulf to make God’s Word heard and understood in Kuwait’s migrant community.