He was shaking as he approached our book table in central London. I took him to one side and he explained that he had travelled here from Mecca to visit a friend.
It was Ramadan and, after they had broken the fast, his friend was planning to sleep with a prostitute – a young girl no older than his own daughters. He was horrified and ran away, leaving his belongings.
He wanted to get to the embassy so they could help him return, having lost his credit card. We sat on the street together, talking. Whilst sharing the gospel, I explained that our sin is like the dirty spot on the inside of a window in the building behind us. We think we can rely on the outward appearances, like prayer and fasting, but we actually need to be cleansed from the inside, in our hearts, and only Jesus can do this.
Over 1.5 million Arab people live in London, the third-largest Arab community in Europe
I gave him food and let him sleep in my office overnight, giving him my book to read. I called him the next day to ask if he was going to fast or whether he would like my wife to prepare breakfast for us to share together. He replied, “I will never fast again. I was reading your book and the Bible all night. I didn’t sleep!”
After organising a meeting for him at the embassy, they were able to arrange a return flight for him. He called me from Heathrow airport to say, “Never again will I read the Quran. I will read the Bible. The spot is on the inside, but you prayed and now Jesus cleans the spot”.
Street evangelism is one of many kinds of outreach to Arabs that I am involved in, including one-to-one discipleship, prayer meetings, conferences, hospitality and social action. However, I have found that open air outreach is one of the most effective ways to reach and witness to Arabs.
Not all encounters are like this one, but whoever we meet, it is a great joy to join with Christians from many Arab countries, as well as other evangelistic organisations, to share the message of the gospel.
I notice a deep hunger in the hearts of Arab people to know more about Christianity
Over 1.5 million Arab people live in London, the third-largest Arab community in Europe, with an additional 500,000 visitors every year from Middle Eastern and North African countries. The turmoil in many countries in the Middle East has brought numerous Arab people to London as refugees and asylum seekers. Others come for tourism, business, study or medical reasons.
In accordance with the Great Commission, every Christian is commanded to make Jesus known to everyone, to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), and to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). There is a great opportunity to share the good news with many Arabs and Muslims in London. It is a big task; it is not always easy and it is sometimes risky. We pray every day, not only for a fruitful time of sharing, but for the power of God’s protection.
Another great privilege is to provide the Bible in different languages, including Arabic. I believe in the power of God through his Word to change hearts, changing sinners into saints in Christ Jesus. I notice a deep hunger in the hearts of Arab people to know more about Christianity. I have written an evangelistic book to explain our beliefs as Christians, which we give away in seven languages.
Another part of my ministry involves teaching God’s word at a weekly meeting on Zoom for Arabic church leaders and Christians worldwide. As we share our testimonies, pray, and encourage each other, we see the Lord answering prayer and equipping us to serve him better.
The Lord has opened doors to teach God’s word in many churches, in London and in the Arab world. Please pray for the UK church to catch the vision for evangelism to Arab people.
Having been called to leave my country, with my family, to serve the Lord here, I now look back on 36 years ministry to Arabic-speakers in London and see what a great God we have. I can say with Paul, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness … That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:9-10).
‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ (2 Cor 12:9)
Yosry ministers to the Arab community in London and the Middle East