Ripe for Harvest
The founder of Florida-based Arab Outreach Ministries (AOM) believes God is opening tremendous ministry opportunities to Arabs.
Jerusalem-born Arab George A. Rafidi, and his wife, Jessica, launched AOM in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1996. The Rafidis are U.S. Missions Intercultural Ministries missionaries and over the years 627 people have made salvation decisions through AOM.
More than 300 people attended an AOM Christmas outreach for Arabic refugees in Tampa, Florida, with 98 of them coming to an altar to surrender their lives to Christ.
“We were very surprised by the number of people that showed up, and more surprised by how many came to the altar,” Rafidi, 45, says.
During the inaugural Tampa Christmas Outreach, attendees registered for prize drawings. Every family received an Arabic Bible and a copy of the Jesus film in Arabic. Rafidi says the ministry is keeping in touch with new converts through phone calls and home visitations. AOM also provides bus transportation to church services to new Christians who request it.
AOM has helped to plant seven congregations in the Sunshine State, including in Jacksonville and Tampa. Rafidi says these Arab churches average 35 adherents.
Mousa Aweis and his wife, Vera, who first encountered AOM 19 years ago, are thankful to God for the ministry.
“We wouldn't be where we are today spiritually in our walk with Christ without the loving ministry of AOM,” he says.
Rafidi says the ministry plans to do another outreach in Tampa in February.
“God has been moving in mysterious ways,” he says. “We are believing that in 2017 we will see more Arabs come to a saving knowledge through faith in Christ than ever before.” Rafidi says God recently inspired him through Habakkuk 1:5, which declares, “Look at the nations and watch — and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”
Scott Temple, director of the AG Office of Ethnic Relations, believes AOM has responded to changing needs of the Arab demographic in the U.S.
“Many lives have been changed, sick people have been healed, and marriages have been restored,” Temple says. “People all over the country praise God for bringing them through the ministry of AOM.”
Yet Rafidi says Arabs tend to shy away from accepting Jesus as Savior out of fear.
“The Arabs' greatest need is acceptance and understanding,” Rafidi says. “Arab refugees, particularly, always have financial needs that we try to meet as much as the Lord enables us to do.”
AOM's greatest need is for laborers, according to Rafidi.
“Because it's very difficult and requires a long-term commitment before you see the fruit of your labor, it tends to keep people away from wanting to be involved in ministering to Arabs,” Rafidi says. “The key to ministering to Arabs is friendship evangelism. Visitations and offering a place of worship in Arabic are ways to follow up with discipleship.”
IMAGE - George and Jessica Rafidi have three children, son Andrawes and daughters Emma and Lillian.