Facing persecution from family members, friends, the government, and terrorist groups, Christians in the Middle East and North Africa are often weary and fearful. They mourn the suffering, trauma, and loss they’ve experienced on account of their faith in Jesus—but they continue to cling to Him. 

During our Spiritual Retreats, we invest in persecuted men, women, and children in life-transforming ways. Held in secure locations, away from harsh living conditions and the eyes of the secret police, attendees feel safe and cared for. We disciple new believers, provide biblical counseling for those struggling with trauma, and offer a safe place to pray, worship, study the Bible, and grow in faith with community. This time of spiritual nourishment and healing gives persecuted Christians a space to set their hearts and minds completely on Christ.  

“Thank you for giving us the chance to meet new people and share our love for Christ with everyone. Thank you for the retreat and for the time put into preparing for it. You are a wonderful team.” —Amira, Lebanon 

After just a few days of fellowship with believers and powerful worship and teaching sessions, a distinct, palpable change occurs on the faces of our attendees. Past wounds begin to lose their power as souls and spirits are rejuvenated in Christ. Smiles and laughter become the norm. A growing, fervent passion for life fills the room that once was a place of mourning.  

“I lost my brother two months ago. Today, in Christ, I have more brothers than I can imagine. I feel like I am home among my family!” —Seif, Lebanon 

We’ve held multiple retreats this year already for refugees and converts from places like Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Here is just a glimpse at how God is moving: 

Married Couples are Refreshed and Renewed 

We hosted a Spiritual Retreat for married couples in Lebanon. Attendees, all from Muslim backgrounds, joined us from cities all over the country. It was an intense weekend, but we were excited to come alongside these couples and teach them how to strengthen their marriages and serve God as a team. 

“We learned to love, respect, and support one another. Thank you for doing this for us. This is the first time we learned about one another like this.”  

Couples were encouraged spiritually and left with a renewed passion for honoring God in their marriages and families. Offering something unique like this to couples is so important because when families flourish, the Church in this hostile region does too! 

Yazidis Worship Freely 

Our Spiritual Retreat for Yazidis, a community once terrorized by ISIS, was a beautiful time of growth and encouragement. Our team in Iraq was excited to provide a safe space where these Yazidi converts could freely worship, fellowship, and receive rich teaching.  

Following the ISIS invasion, many Yazidis living in refugee camps have come to faith in Christ. Most are persecuted and threatened by their families. One person shared at the retreat, “If someone finds out about us, we will be dead.” In fact, they have written their own worship songs in code for fear of others in the community understanding what they are doing. The lyrics are touching and challenging:  

Oh God my Lord save us.  

They burnt our houses and our lands.  

You are our Savior;  

you will help us.   

We are excited to play a small role in helping persecuted Yazidis find strength, comfort, and joy in Jesus through Spiritual Retreats! 

Young Iraqi Converts Get Baptized! 

We also held a Spiritual Retreat for young Iraqi men, all of whom came from strict Muslim communities. Many were so hungry for Christian fellowship and community that they drove for several hours to attend!  

“We have no churches. Not a single church in the South where we live. We cannot read our Bible, worship, or even be seen with our friends. We are threatened and tortured every day for our faith.”  

Several attendees are staying in one of our Safe Houses, and others live in complete isolation from other believers. Ahmad, a young convert, told us about the lengths he goes to in order to read the Bible: 

“I used to stand in the rain on the roof during winter just to be able to read the Bible. Hours could go by, and I was very cold, but it was my only chance. You have no idea how important this conference is for us.”  

Another man said that he could not download the Bible app on his phone because his father would kill him—but he found another way, listening to an audio version of the Bible on YouTube! 

They were excited to have the opportunity to worship freely and learn about Jesus from our team. “I learned how to be wise when evangelizing others. I was like a tree starving for water, but at the Spiritual Retreat, I drank the water I needed… Jesus Christ!”  

Another young man shared, “I felt joy I haven’t felt before. Three days at this retreat made me feel whole again.” 

Three of the men attending had the chance to be baptized by the end of the Spiritual Retreat. Two cousins were excited to declare their faith publicly after suffering extreme persecution from their families. 

We were overwhelmed by how God has walked with these brave young men, encouraging them in Himself and showing them His love for each of them. 

The Eternal Impact of Spiritual Retreats 

These Spiritual Retreats have eternal impact. Lives are changed as these believers and gather and worship God together. Each event plays a pivotal role in rescuing, restoring, and rebuilding the lives of our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.   

When our Field Ministry Team leader said goodbye to the Iraqis on these recent retreats, he shared that the reality of the extreme persecution they are facing hit him. He had a feeling that he might not see all of them again. However, at that moment, the Lord whispered to him: “You are going to see them in Heaven.”   

This is sobering. But what a joy it is to minister to these brave believers at Spiritual Retreats! 

Gifts to Help The Persecuted make Spiritual Retreats possible, covering expenses like accommodations, meals, conference space, discipleship materials, and gifts for those serving and leading.  

Thank you for your partnership as we serve persecuted Christians through Spiritual Retreats.