Arab World Ministries… The full story
1 Jan 2011
Founded in 1881, Arab World Ministries is an evangelical, international mission specifically focused on making disciples and establishing churches among Muslims of the Arab world. In 2010, there were more than 400 AWM personnel serving in North Africa, the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula, as well as major cities in Europe and North America.
While focused on church planting, AWM is also know for their 50 year history of strategic and fruitful media outreach through radio, correspondence, and now, the internet. This outreach continues today as a ministry of Pioneers International.
Arab World Ministries’ roots date back to 1876. George and Jane Pearse set off from England aiming to share the gospel with French occupying troops. On the first night of their arrival, Jane looked down from the balcony of their hotel room and spotted a pile of rags lying on the roadside. It was too late to investigate further, so the couple waited. Early the next morning, at first opportunity, a closer inspection revealed the rags to be two men who had died, during that night, of starvation.
The Pearses returned to England with heavy hearts; they wanted to reach out to the poor people of Algeria. They shared this burden with friends, including Dr and Mrs H Grattan Guinness, who encouraged them to begin a mission and even gave them their first donation. Later on they were joined by Edward Glenny, who formed a part of the first group to set off for Algeria, to the town of Djemma Sahridj in 1881.
Initially the mission was called The Mission to the Kabyles and other Berber Races before it took on the more memorable name North Africa Mission. As more heard about the need, more joined – taking numbers up to 115 by the year 1900, working from 17 separate ‘mission stations’ in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. During the 1960s, three other missions were incorporated: Algiers Mission Band, founded by Lilias Trotter; Southern Morocco Mission, founded by John Anderson; and Dades Valley Fellowship.
Around the same time, one missionary family had the idea to begin broadcasting the gospel via radio in North Africa. No one could have predicted that such a great door to the Arab world would open from those small beginnings in 1959. Yet only two years later, the great door was thrown wide open and radio broadcasting was launched from a specially designed studio in the Atlas Mountains. The correspondence and radio ministries started to expand at a phenomenal rate, but the work in North Africa was under constant threat.
In 1964, for security reasons the decision was made to move the work out of North Africa – and so the Radio School of the Bible (RSB) was founded in France. Within a year, 5,300 new students had requested Bible courses with 1,032 professions of faith. By the late 1990s, AWM Media (now Arab World Media) had communicated with over 250,000 students who had responded to radio programmes.
In 1987, the name Arab World Ministries was finally adopted to reflect the emphasis of the mission, no longer limited to North Africa but to all Arab world people, wherever they may be found. This included large populations living in the West, particularly in Europe and North America.
Over the following years, many new ways of sharing the gospel were developed, including the production of satellite TV programmes, websites, new media initiatives, and development work.