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Messengers in the desert


For a couple of TMS Global cross-cultural witnesses (CCWs), part of ministry includes praying for camels – by name.

Richard Brown* and his wife Pam* serve an area of North Africa that hasn’t had much exposure to the gospel. At least not for the past 1,000 years or so.

This part of the world is home to Bedouin tribes. These nomadic people groups have traditionally viewed camels as a cornerstone of their way of life.

Richard Brown says a colleague with a Bedouin background told him, “Anything of value in nomadic communities must come on the back of a camel. If the gospel does not come on the back of a camel, our people see it as something foreign and Western. It has no value because it does not belong to their culture.”

So a couple of years ago, Brown and his team launched a camel ministry. They helped people who had previously been nomad herders for the wealthy and ruling class to purchase their own camels. They helped them to establish small scale trading among the nomads.

This year six people have come to faith in Christ through camel evangelism.

Camel trading is an important part of Bedouin society. Camel evangelists travel as part of a caravan and connect with specific communities repeatedly. Because they now own their own camels, these Christ followers can determine where they go and who they communicate with on their own schedule. They pray for collective conversion. They want to see groups of people come to faith in Christ at the same time.

In Bedouin society, collective identity is vitally important. If a person comes to faith in Christ, he or she may be the only person in their family, clan, or community who is following Jesus.

“To be the only one is a frightful, frightful thing,” Brown says.

Loss of family and identity aren’t the only challenges for people in this region. Following Christ can also lead to prison or death.

“Right up front, we share the cost,” Brown says. “This can cost you your life.”

But in the gospel, Brown says, Bedouins are seeing an alternative hope for their people, and a means of bringing reconciliation and grace.

“Years ago I met a chief who told me his previous faith had no resources to bring peace to his people,” Brown says. “It was his search for a source of reconciliation and peace that led him to faith in Christ and embracing the gospel. He now functions as an evangelical pastor in his own community. Because in the gospel, he found resources for peace and reconciliation.”

Brown says people in this region may also see the gospel as a point of connection with who their people used to be, many centuries ago. After all, the great Christian theologian of the early Church, Augustine was born in North Africa and served there.

Because of security issues Brown and his teammates cannot name the evangelists bringing the gospel on the backs of camels. But they can share the names of the camels.

“We circulate the names and images to connect our people with prayer,” Brown says.

We encourage you to pray for the people of North Africa, that they would come to know Jesus as Lord. And even though, for security reasons, Brown can’t give us names of people to pray for, he can give us the names of camels. So this month consider praying for The Traveler, The Gazelle, and The Rocket. Pray for protection and boldness for their riders, and that the Bedouin people would be receptive to the message the camels carry.

Close up photo of a camel

* Pseudonyms are used for security reasons.