When Pastor Jad arrived in the U.S. from the Middle East in 1972, there were only a few Arabic-language churches in the U.S. He has since helped plant some 300 Arabic churches across the country.
It’s a great story that only a few hundred people know about because Pastor Jad’s $800,000 ministry, Voice of the Truth, is publicity-averse, and has resisted media coverage for decades. It spends $0 a year on fundraising.
But after a recent 50th anniversary dinner for about 250 workers, partners, friends and donors, the ministry offered to share some of its achievements:
Producing Arabic-language Christian radio broadcasts that are carried on 60 U.S. radio stations.
Printing and distributing 3 million “How to know Christ” tracts, 2 million New Testaments and 350,000 Bibles in 15 languages.
Attracting more than 8.4 million global visitors to resources on its website.
Teaching more than 10,500 students about the lives of Christ and St. Paul through correspondence courses.
And hosting more than 60 conferences for Arabic Christian pastors, including the gathering pictured above, which was held in 2022 at The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in North Carolina.
Secrecy is baked in
Pastor Jad was raised in a traditional Catholic family in Syria, but his faith came alive after he heard an evangelistic message from an evangelical preacher. He felt the call to be a young Christian evangelist himself while still in his teens.
This led to pressure, persecution and a brief imprisonment in Syria, where 87% of the population is Muslim and laws prohibit evangelism. He left home for Lebanon, where the work was safer, but he said God called him to minister to the growing number of Arabs in the West. Today, some 3.7 million Americans have roots in Arab countries.
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He figured he would make it to the West Coast but stopped in Colorado Springs, and like many others, never left.
The risks involved in evangelizing Arabs led Pastor Jad to avoid any and all publicity, making Voice of the Truth perhaps the least known of the dozens of evangelical groups based in the Springs.
After he arrived in 1972, he bought an ad in The Gazette inviting people to a church service conducted in the Arabic language. He was grateful when eight people showed up to that first one. When First Nazarene Church gave him free office space, his geographic fate was sealed.
He launched his Arabic-language radio show on a country-and-western station and worked as a busboy at a local Denny’s to make ends meet until he could find donors.
Donors were found. In 2020, the ministry raised $790,543, up from $608,762 in 2019, according to 990 filings, which identify its leader as Jadalla Ghrayyeb, whose salary is just under $75,000.
Approximately 70% of its budget is spent on work in the U.S., with the rest devoted to international work, including supporting Christian workers and sending Bibles and materials. The ministry does not release its audited financial reports, nor is it a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
Voice of the Truth has done much, according to a 50th anniversary document: “The seeds that have been planted throughout the world have grown in amazing ways. … Three to four million Arabic people have heard the Gospel of Jesus through our programs, literature, and churches.”
But the ministry’s low profile, combined with the growing age of its donor base, has hampered consistent fundraising.
Plus, ministry to Arabs remains “a hard sell” for many American donors, said Mateen Elass, who served as a pastor at First Presbyterian Church from 1994 to 2000 and joined the staff of Voice of the Truth in 2015 to teach and train Christians about reaching Arabs.
“From time of Mohammad’s death in the mid-600s onward, the Muslim world was seen as hard soil, impenetrable soil, where the seed of the gospel would never take root,” said Elass. “Evangelists typically said, ‘Let’s look elsewhere in the world.’”
But ministries that serve Arabs here and abroad say they see ongoing interest in Jesus from Arabs fed up with the abuse of Islamic regimes, including in Iran, which has seen popular uprisings since September, when Tehran’s Morality Police killed Mahsa Amini, a young woman who challenged the nation’s mandatory hijab laws.
This article originally appeared at MinistryWatch.
Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy.