by Rich Keffer
Vision trips by First Free St. Louis to the Middle East in 2008 and 2009 led the MENA (Middle East North Africa) team to focus ministry efforts on partnering with the Evangelical Free Church in Beirut, Lebanon. Beginning in 2011, First Free has sent a summer team each year to partner with them in their summer youth and children’s camps and in outreach activities emphasizing Vacation Bible Schools and ESL programs in unreached communities in and around Beirut.
First Free St. Louis has very generously supported these outreach activities financially (including through Advent Conspiracy) and in prayer. For the last 4 years, these Vacation Bible Schools and ESL classes have been among Syrian refugees in Beirut.
One constant through all these events has been an ever growing, ever changing group of young leaders from Beirut Evangelical Free Church who have provided the local planning, logistics, language skills, cultural knowledge, relational connections, love of neighbor, and Christian witness to their community. What a thrill it has been through the years to watch this group of young leaders grow in their faith and use their giftedness!
Others have noticed this group of young leaders. In fact, this summer, the international Evangelical Free Church missions agency invited eight people from this group to come tell their story to the annual denominational gathering of college students in Kansas City. We tagged on to that trip an invitation for those 8 to join us at First Free St. Louis. During the first full week of July, they will tell their faith, growth and outreach stories in various settings.
Upcoming Events Associated with MENA:
May 14-June 15: Ramadan. You may pick up a Ramadan Prayer Guide at the Information Center in the main building. Also available is a children’s edition. Supplies are limited.
June 7: Ramadan Prayer Night. Join us for a night to seek God for our Muslim neighbors as they seek the ‘straight path to God’. We will meet at 7 pm in the First Free Chapel. Questions? Contact Dan and Stephani at (firstname.lastname@example.org). This prayer effort is combined with the regular MENA prayer meeting in June.
July 8: Lunch to meet the MENA team from Beirut. Many of you have supported First Free team members on their mission trips to Beirut. Come meet some of the young men and women that our teams have served with in Lebanon! Join us in Room 110 directly after 2nd service. Questions? Email Rich at email@example.com. To RSVP for the lunch, contact Cathy Nelson (firstname.lastname@example.org). The team will be interviewed in the worship services.
September 14-15: Ministry to Muslims Workshop. Join us for an amazing opportunity to learn how to relate to and speak with Muslims that can honor their culture and bring them into gospel conversations. We are partnering with Twin Oaks Presbyterian Church on Friday (6-9) and Saturday (9-3) at First Free in Room 110. Light snacks, breakfast, and lunch are included. Cost: $20. Questions? Email Laura at email@example.com.