This month on the blog we will be profiling the stories and work of several national workers from our ministry partner, The Free Evangelical Association of Lebanon. FEAL works to bring holistic transformation to the Middle East and North Africa Region. This week, Joseph Najem, the director of the Free Evangelical Association shares with us his story and vision for the ministry. FEAL’s work with refugees was profiled in our short film “Trapped in Transition.”
I was raised in the Maronite Catholic tradition of Lebanon, from which comes from the radical military arm of Christian politics. However, my parents were nominal Roman Catholics, so I grew up with no interest in religious matters. Until my conversion on March 14, 1972, I had never read the Bible before. I often found myself questioning the meaning of life.
I first heard the Gospel of Christ through a business colleague. I was invited to an evangelistic conference held in an Evangelical Free Church in Beirut. At the conference, the words of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, but by me”, convinced me that He was the answer to my search. I committed my life to the Lord that night with tears of joy. I accepted the Lord as my Savior when I was 19 years old.
After my conversion, I joined the church, grew in the faith, and became active as a Christian businessman. I completed a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the St. Joseph University in Beirut, and became the Regional Finance Director for a large American Advertising company. There, I was in charge of the accounting and finances of five offices throughout the Middle East (Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait and Dubai-UAE). This company was responsible for promoting major corporations such as Proctor and Gamble, Philip Morris, Kellogg, Kraft, and McDonalds.
In 1987, I began to sense the call of God on my life. I knew that the Lord wanted more from my life and as my wife and I prayed, we realized that God was directing us to ministry. There was no way to ignore it. In planning for a visit to Canada, I was granted landed immigrant status. I took this as an indication that God wanted me to study Theology there to prepare for my future ministry. In July of 1990 I left for Toronto with my family to study at Tyndale Seminary. In August of 1993, I graduated with a Masters of Divinity degree. During my studies, I felt a strong call to return to Lebanon and be part of a church planting movement there. My vision from God is to reach the unreached with the gospel throughout the Middle East. The Free Church that I call home is located on the Green Line which divides Beirut into Muslim and Christian sectors. This offered me the base from which to operate. A 6-acre camp located in the Muslim sector and operated by the church would help fulfill the vision to train and equip local workers for outreach into Lebanon.
In July of 1994, I returned to Lebanon with my family to become the Pastor of the Evangelical Free Church of Beirut.
The same church in which I was saved 22 years ago. I am still devoted to the Mission Work in the Middle East and North Africa. Today, by the grace of God, our mission work has expanded in five different Arab Countries; Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Sudan. Today we have 17 national missionaries scattered in these five countries and have established 11 churches. Our ministry ranges between church planting, outreach, discipleship, camp & compassion. We established two Bible institutes to develop and train emerging Leaders in Beirut and Amman.