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Equipped for the Task

Multifaceted ministry reaches Arabic-speaking community in Detroit and abroad.
An Assemblies of God U.S. missionary serving with Intercultural Ministries has a multifaceted outreach in an area with the highest concentration of Muslims in the country.

Yousef S. Habibi ministers with his wife, Pat, to the Arabic-speaking community of metro Detroit through English as a second language (ESL) classes as well as Bible studies at Abundant Life Center. Habibi also teaches on satellite and internet evangelistic programming.

“The ESL classes provide a bridge into the community,” says Habibi, 74. “Students express their appreciation of learning English in a warm and caring atmosphere.” The ESL classes, which draw an average of 40 to 50 people, meet four times a week. There are weekly Bible studies both in the classroom and in small group settings.

Lena Ali, 45, was a Lebanese Muslim who converted to Christianity after attending the Bible study in 1999.

“The Bible studies have taught me the depths of the Word of God,” Ali says. “The Word of God is beautifully broken down for us. It has helped me to grow in the truth. The transparency in the fellowship with other Christians is especially important for the other ladies and me. We can share what is in our heart without judgment.”

There are an estimated 3.6 million Arabic-speaking people in the United States, and many are Muslim adherents. According to Habibi, 282,000 Arabic-speaking people live in metro Detroit.

Born in Haifa, Israel, Habibi grew up in Egypt and served on the staff at the Lillian Trasher Orphanage in the country. There he met Pat, who served as an Assemblies of God Mission Abroad Placement Service worker at the orphanage They wed in 1983 and moved to the United States two years later. Yousef has served as an AG U.S. missionary since 1986. He and Pat have ministered in Detroit since 1988.

From the Motor City, Habibi produces and hosts a television show on the Arabic Christian Satellite Network that broadcasts the gospel in Arabic throughout the world. He also has a YouTube channel. He says thousands of people watch the satellite and internet programming daily.

“There are five different language disciple groups that promote interaction between those who want to grow in their walk with the Lord,” Habibi says.

Curt Dalaba, secretary-treasurer for the Assemblies of God Michigan District, has known Habibi and his wife for more than 30 years.

“I have witnessed firsthand their love for the Arabic-speaking community,” he says. “Their direct involvement in the community through teaching English as a second language is impressive. Through their neighborhood outreaches, Bible studies, and gospel programs for broadcasting via satellite and the internet, they have demonstrated a multifaceted ministry in reaching others for the kingdom of Jesus Christ.”

Wayne Huffman, senior director of Intercultural Ministries, agrees.

“Yousef and Pat are well acquainted with Arabic and Islamic culture,” Huffman explains. “God has strategically placed them in Dearborn, Michigan, where the highest concentration of Muslims reside in the country and they are actively reaching them with the gospel.”

Huffman says the ESL classes allow the couple to build relationships that open doors for clear explanations of the gospel.

“Yousif is also greatly used of God in reaching the Arab world through programs on the Arabic Christian Satellite network,” Huffman says. “Through these programs, Muslims are hearing the gospel and coming to Christ throughout the world.”

Eric Tiansay

Eric Tiansay has been a full-time journalist since 1993, writing articles for Christian media since 2000. He lives in central Florida, where he is an active member of an Assemblies of God church.