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Fleeing Persecution and Proclaiming Christ

From Persecution in the Middle East to Serving Refugees in Brazil
Written by Sarah, a worker serving in Brazil

As a Muslim living in a Middle Eastern country, Sarah’s newfound belief in Christ was met with much persecution. When her brother found out about her decision to become a Christ follower, he threatened her life and locked her in a room for three days with a choice: renounce her decision or be killed. Her mother, afraid for her daughter’s life, urged Sarah to flee with whatever money she had.

Sarah fled to another Arab country in 2012 where she enrolled in an OC partner seminary. There she met her husband, Fadi, and became pregnant with their first-born son. Sarah and Fadi decided to move to Brazil for a period of time so they could safely serve Christ and raise their child. Their original plan was to stay for 6 months but after being introduced to Mesa Global, they found themselves called to stay and help meet the needs of displaced refugees from Syria, Palestine, and Iraq. “Brazil is not an easy place for refugees,” says Sarah. “They suffer from not knowing the language, and lack of care. They don’t have families, friends, a place to stay or even food. What we do is we offer housing for those who don’t have a place to stay. They may stay with us for months at a time. It is like a family house.”

Since that time, Sarah and Fadi have been serving approximately 50 refugees a month, providing food and housing, and connecting them with the Brazilian community and local churches to help them find jobs, enroll in programs to learn Portuguese, and obtain adequate healthcare.

Sarah is Muslim by background and culture, but she and Fadi are Christian by choice and faith. And that is what makes their witness to those they serve so valuable. They are able to help refugees adjust to life in Brazil and minister to them while still honoring and relating to the Arab culture. Fadi says, “From time to time, we also help the local Brazilian churches to understand Arab culture, and often to dispel the stereotypes and fears Brazilians have of Arabs and Muslims. We explain why Brazilians should help the refugees and what would become of the country of Brazil if we left them without care.”

The living Gospel is on full display through Sarah and Fadi’s ministry and when opportunities arise, they are able to share about Jesus with those who need it most. “They see something in us that they don’t see in others,” declares Sarah. “They are moved by the generosity and love that we and others offer. In Islam, they only offer help to other Muslims. But we try to help everyone, and this raises questions. It is then that we share about Jesus.”

Since they have moved to Brazil, Fadi has traveled to Iraq and Lebanon several times. He leads missions teams from churches in the United States to serve the refugees who live in the camps in both countries.

Sarah and Fadi are the kinds of global workers whom Mesa Global is seeking to mobilize. They are following God’s leading to unknown places and people, sharing the Gospel in word and deed. Through Sarah and Fadi’s faithfulness to God’s call, we are seeing the Gospel carried out to the growing number of refugees currently displaced in Brazil.