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FIRST-PERSON: Doors are open for global missions partners in the Middle East 

Matt Chism took this photo of refugee children while traveling in the Middle East many years ago. Unfortunately, the refugee crisis remains in the world. Opportunities for ministry are open for those willing to serve. IMB Photo


For years, my husband, Matt, worked for the International Mission Board as a photographer. While on a trip covering the plight of Middle Eastern refugees, the trajectory of his career with the IMB changed. With each click of his camera, he was so moved with compassion that he began to feel God calling him to minister to them full time.  

I felt the call too, and we’ve spent our lives, or at least 19 years of them, working with Middle Eastern people, especially those who are displaced. We’ve cried with them. We’ve celebrated with them. We’ve lived our lives among them. And though we’ve had to move for our own safety, we haven’t regretted a moment of it.   

We love the work we do among Middle Eastern people so much that we now spend our days mobilizing others to go and share the gospel with them.  

What we’ve found is that many times, places that are closed to those with a passport from the United States are more receptive to people from other areas. Until the last few years, we were two of the only Asians serving with the IMB among Middle Eastern peoples. While that’s shifted some now, we have a heart to mobilize other global workers to join teams reaching Northern African and Middle Eastern peoples.  

It’s important to onboard other cultures onto IMB teams. We get to walk with these partners from the nations – global missionary partners – as they strategically join the work of existing IMB teams. We understand what it’s like to be a minority on a mission field and a minority on a missionary team. We seek each day to encourage and equip them.  

Take, for example, our friends Bob and Kate. The passport from their home country allows them to travel where we can’t. Before connecting with the IMB, they were poised to take the gospel to people who haven’t heard, but they didn’t know how.  Our teams have strategies set up for Middle Eastern countries, but we just couldn’t get in. Together, our GMP friends can go in and out of a country hostile to the gospel and establish work, aided by IMB workers who serve from outside the borders. The GMPs have opened the doors for others to live and work among the unreached people in the Middle East.  

Our friends Evan and Sue have passports from an Asian country. They’re GMPs who are working with us on strategy, though. They have a deep love for Middle Eastern peoples. They’ve been strategically working with believers from another East Asian country to send more GMPs into countries hostile to the gospel with the good news.  

IMB missionaries understand that we can’t be everywhere. God has called the nations to the nations. We get to be a part of that. And for that, we’ll always be grateful. As we see the fruit of our labor, one GMP sharing the gospel with one Middle Eastern person at a time, we rejoice. That Revelation 7:9 vision is becoming a reality.  

*Some names have been changed for security.