Brother Khalaf was born into a Christian family in the Middle East in 1959. Yet, as a young man, he got caught up in communism, gangs, and even tried to commit suicide. One evening in February 1977, Khalaf and his gang went to a church to cause trouble for the Christians. As he waited for the right opportunity to strike, he heard the Gospel. He prayed, “Jesus, if you are real, please change me. I’m tired of my life.” The Lord heard his prayer, and that night Khalaf’s life was changed.
Within two months, Khalaf had read the entire Bible. He started holding evangelistic meetings for street kids and later became involved in church planting, pastoring, and training. He started Raja al Umam in 1998. Khalaf is married and has four children.
Sixty Believers Baptized
The heat of the day was no match for the fire of the Holy Spirit during a 2009 baptismal service led by Raja al Umam. Dozens of individuals, including three families and two Muslim-background believers, were baptized by Pastor Khalaf and two other pastors.
“After the scheduled individuals had been baptized, the other pastors and I were all wondering whether we should come out of the water or wait a little longer?” said one of the pastors. “As we talked and prayed, someone else would come, wanting to be baptized. People were coming into the water in their regular clothes to be baptized. It was the work of the Holy Spirit. We had originally planned to baptize just 20 people, but that day 60 believers were baptized in the river. Our God is powerfully at work in the Middle East."
With a population of 300 million people and only a handful of Christian workers per million, the Arab world presents a significant challenge to Christian ministry today. Because of the strict laws that restrict evangelism in many countries, churches in the Arab world have sometimes been content to simply “exist in an environment of non-confrontation” in order to maintain the small freedoms they enjoy. Raja al Umam believes that in order to see Christ transform the Arab world, it is essential that the Arab Church focus on outreach.
Over the years, Raja al Umam has trained hundreds of church leaders and youth through their mobilization courses. Currently, they have 55 church planters in the field, but their goal is to send 100 within the next three years.
“Never in history has the Arab world been so receptive to the Gospel as it is today,” said Brother Khalaf. “We need to take up the challenge and opportunity before us, as increasing numbers of people are showing interest in the Gospel.”