“This material is so powerful—it uses questions to guide the hearts and minds of people towards positive changes,” one worker joyfully shared. In September 2019, health workers from 11 Middle Eastern countries, eager to learn a new tool for evangelism, came together in Lebanon for a four-day health summit sponsored and organized by the Middle East and North African Union (MENAU). Ivonne Restrepo, health outreach instructor at Hartland College, collaborated with other professionals to develop a groundbreaking coaching curriculum—tailored specifically for reaching Muslims. This curriculum is being used as a training tool not only in the Middle East, but also right here on Hartland’s campus and other locations around the world.
While four days seems hardly enough time to learn a new evangelistic method, these workers were determined to learn all they could in the time they had! “I remember a few girls coming to Ivonne after training hours to try to get a little more material, a little more training, because they knew how far a little more would go,” recalls 2017 Hartland graduate Nicole Bertelli, who accompanied Ivonne to Beirut. “They longed to connect with the people they were working with, and they saw in this training a great opportunity to reach people’s hearts and help them in a very practical way.”
Where other traditional methods of evangelism cannot be used, coaching is opening doors for sharing the gospel in the Middle East. These health workers wanted to use coaching as a tool to befriend Muslim people. From exercising with someone struggling to lose weight to preparing nutritious soup for the sick or elderly, coaching is providing opportunities for service that reveals the character of God to others. And as coaches ask insightful questions, people are led to examine their faith in a way that can lead them to discover greater truth.
Skeptical young Muslims, struggling with doubts and questions, are also being reached: “I feel that I have happiness inside because of all these questions [the coaches are asking]. They are answering questions I have hid in my mind and my soul for too many years,” one young man shared. As these young people develop a friendship with a coach, they begin to see God as a personal God—a sharp contrast to the distant Deity they grew up learning about. This theme of a personal heavenly Father who can bring healing draws young Muslims back week after week.
When we give, we also receive—and those who were conducting the training also received a blessing. Ivonne and Nicole both experienced a revived love for mission work. “I thought about the amount of work they were doing with almost nothing. And then about how many things we have here, and our lack of zeal for souls. I was reproved,” Ivonne shares.
Nicole adds, “Being there rekindled a fire in my heart to share God with those who do not know the message of salvation and do not know the freedom and peace we can find in Christ.”
God is opening doors throughout the Middle East. We would like to urge you to pray for the leaders at MENAU and the amazing missionaries God has sent from different parts of the world to minister in the Middle East. These health workers are praying every day for divine appointments, because one person is worth all the effort.
A worker from North Africa: “Praise the Lord for this useful training! I am so happy that I had the opportunity to learn in a more structured way about health coaching. Please pray that God will reach the hearts of our friends and do miracles as we use what we’ve learned.”
A nurse in a Middle Eastern country: “I shared a soup recipe with one of my patients and she just loved it. She’s old and doesn’t want to eat. So Teenie’s easy soup recipe came to the rescue. Thank you so much.”
A worker in the Middle East: “In the middle of my session with one man, he asked me, ‘Why do you do this?’ I simply replied, ‘Because my God sent me to you.’ He followed up, ‘Why?’ I prayed silently and answered, ‘Because I want you to have the same mind that I have with the Lord, because God loves you.’ Seeing the genuine smile on his face, I realized this material is so powerful to change the hearts and minds of people.”