What started as a small assistance fund of a larger broadcast ministry, has now grown into a self-sustaining, stand-alone ministry serving more than 46,000 persecuted Christians in the Middle East and North Africa this past year. And Joshua Youssef is on fire to serve more Christians facing extreme danger.

Joshua coordinates efforts, oversees spending, communicates with country leaders and local pastors in the Middle East—working to provide dignity, stability, hope, and a way forward for persecuted Christian men, women and children. 

Joshua Youssef with Mayor Nisan Karromi at the opening of Help The Persecuted’s Iraq Ministry Center in Qaraqosh.

A Pastor’s Son in Need of Saving

It would be easy to think that someone like Joshua Youssef, son of a prominent Atlanta pastor whose ministry extends across the world, wouldn’t have much of a testimony to share. It would be easy to assume that he’s always been on the straight and narrow, always loved God, always put others first, and didn’t need much “saving” because of his pedigree and background.

But that’s an unfair assumption to make. Like any of us, pastors’ children are human, they sin and fall short every day.

Joshua came to accept Christ when he was seven years old. As he grew into a young man and went away to college, he started constructing a barrier between him and God. In fact, it’s because He knew God’s power, His heart for mankind, and His call to make disciples, that Joshua wanted to push Jesus away. Would God ask Joshua to be a minister like his father? Joshua didn’t know if he wanted that. And the wall grew higher.

Until one day in college, with a group of friends intent on fun and carelessness, he took a river rafting trip down a swollen river. That was the day that broke Joshua’s heart and changed the trajectory of his life forever.

While rafting down the river, his canoe and his friends’ canoe tipped over in the middle of some dangerous rapids. Two of the four young men were in extreme danger—one pulled to shore and revived, the other fighting for his life underneath the pull of the rapids.

That day on the river, Joshua nearly lost two of his closest friends. During those hours that seemed to stretch into eternity, Joshua felt God’s call on his heart. He felt God’s presence. And he felt God’s yearning for him to return to his first love.

After this encounter with God during this near tragedy, Joshua Youssef was never the same.

The new life God had for Joshua Youssef

God had so much more in store for Joshua. Did He call him to ministry? Did He ask him to shepherd a local church congregation, or speak to multitudes? Well, sort of. But not in the way Joshua thought—or was afraid—that He would.

The first ember of passion to help the persecuted and build up the Muslim Background Believer church occurred on a Middle East journey in August of 2001. As Joshua and the group he was traveling with met with Egyptian pastors, one pastor pointed to some converts gathered in the street and told him, “Many of these people will pay a heavy price for their decision to follow Christ.” In that moment, Joshua recalls knowing full well that he wanted to be a part of anything that came alongside the people he saw gathered near the church.

In 2011, that ember was fueled further when the Help The Persecuted fund was established. Through the generosity of a committed family, seed money was given to create a fund for helping persecuted Christians in the Middle East and North Africa. Joshua began to create a plan and oversee the distribution of funds to in-need persecuted believers.

But the God-inspired vision to help persecuted Christians, that is now known as Help The Persecuted, isn’t in the business of simply bailing out Christians or providing them with a crutch that they must always turn to. No, God led Joshua to create a process for assistance to persecuted Christians based on three pillars: Identify, Support, and Empower.

  1. Identify: Help The Persecuted’s Field Ministry Team meets with individuals to hear their stories, assess their urgent needs, and prayerfully prioritize their cases. 
  1. Support: We then provide holistic support tailored to each individual’s practical and spiritual needs—from safe housing to pastoral care and more.
  1. Empower: Our goal is to build long-term discipleship relationships that empower the Church to flourish—even in hostile regions.

Help The Persecuted’s Field Ministry Team is comprised of indigenous ministers of the Gospel. Some were raised in the Christian faith and others converted to Christianity. Having grown up in the Middle East and North Africa region, they already understand the cultures and the political and religious systems. They are deeply committed to serving the persecuted Church—at great risk to themselves and their own families.

Broken Hearts for the Persecuted

Together, our prayer is that God would break our hearts for what breaks His. That we would see through the eyes of eternity to reach across countries and lift up persecuted Christians to a God who loves them, cares for them, and wants to be in relationship with them forever.

Today, help us rescue our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. Your gift would help us provide stable accommodations and necessities for Afghans resettling in foreign countries.

Joshua Youssef: A Heart for the Persecuted