Mission Focus for this month is: Middle East Reformed Fellowship (MERF).
Middle East Reformed Fellowship (MERF) is an evangelical Christian missionary organization which serves in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia on behalf of Reformed and Presbyterian Family of Churches and believers worldwide.
In 1971 three young believers from various nationalities met in Beirut, Lebanon. They got together for fellowship and mutual encouragement. The three were united in a desire to “proclaim the whole counsel of God” and to serve and guard “the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” They were driven by love for Christ and admiration for those pioneer missionaries who faithfully labored and established believing churches in different countries of the region. Their vision centered around presenting the whole Gospel to the whole man in the spirit of the pioneers. Meeting regularly for prayer, Bible study and the discussion of Reformed literature, they established a growing fellowship. They began to sponsor lectures, seminars and other Christian activities in Beirut. The membership steadily grew and the Middle East Reformed Fellowship (MERF) was fully organized in 1974. Its vision began to receive much attention in Reformed circles worldwide. In 1975, however, as MERF began to take root, war broke out in Lebanon, scattering its members around the world. The organization’s official activities ceased, but the dispersed members kept working toward the goal of strengthening the Reformed witness in the Middle East. Projects of translating and publishing Reformed literature as well as preaching and teaching were carried out in Egypt. Also, the Lebanon Reformed Fellowship (LRF) was organized by Lebanese believers to continue the original work of MERF in Lebanon.
The events of the 1970’s and 1980’s forced a re-examination of MERF’s strategy. On the one hand, doors became clearly closed for the traditional missionary endeavors in the region. On the other hand, the effectiveness of nationals and their churches in outreach became more obvious. National Christians began to make an impact in their societies by means of radio, literature and other mass media. With the wise counsel of prominent national pastors as well as Reformed missionary strategists, in 1983 a reorganized MERF began to emerge on a regional scale, under the leadership of one of the three original founders, as an indigenously-based Fellowship with clear statements of nature, faith and purpose, structured as a holistic four-fold ministry-Evangelism, Church-extension, Biblical Training and Diaconal Aid.
Today, pastors, churches and Christian individuals all over the world have caught sight of this vision. MERF has the great opportunity to promote an active Reformed witness in the Middle East out of its headquarters in Cyprus, with local MERF administrative committees in Muslim lands such as the Middle East, North and East Africa, Pakistan and Indonesia. MERF is committed to the service of the church of Christ according to God’s Word. This is a truly ecumenical effort since it unites the gifts and resources of God’s people from different ethnic backgrounds for the service of Christ in the Muslim World, with a view of expanding outreach to other Muslim lands. By God’s grace, much prayerful and hard work over the years has resulted in an effective and expanding ministry in the region. As the work has expanded its needs also have grown. Thus, MERF support bodies have been organized in different parts of the world.
The committee members of MERF (Australia) consists of Rev. Terry Flanagan (Macarthur Christian Reformed Church), Dr. Peter Barnes (Revesby Presbyterian Church), Rev. John Baxter, Dr. Greg Fox, and Rev. Keith Noldt, headed by Dr. Noel Weeks.
For more information about Middle East Reformed Fellowship, please visit www.merf.org