CRM / Novo is a band of creative missionaries; determined, innovative, and responsive to the Spirit. We are sent to multiply movements of the gospel and to mobilize the church for mission. In everything we do, our hearts look forward to the day when all will be made new. Novo, it means ‘to make new.’
One beautiful example shared in our CRM / Novo introduction video (see below) is from Egypt: In Egypt, the love of God reached families isolated by disability. This brought transformation to their communities, and is sparking wildfires of gospel movement in the Muslim world.
Learn more about this gospel movement
The “Ones that Jesus loves” (“Habayed-Yasou'” in Arabic)! What an amazing name for this group of those with special needs! In Egypt, a shame and honor culture, the status of those with special needs is not much above animals in terms of how they are seen and the value they are given. But in the last few years, that has begun to change. These people are ones that Jesus loves, and many of them (and their families) are coming to know that! CRM / Novo's Middle East partner organization, NEO, is bringing Jesus to these people in a way that they have never experienced before, offering them acceptance, a place in a big family, and the feeling that they’re a valuable part of God’s creation.
It’s hard to comprehend the full impact of the good news on this community apart from knowing the pain they’ve experienced in their culture. NEO’s leader shares more details:
“Disability in Egypt is a shame. It brings shame to the whole family. Nobody touches these people; it’s like leprosy in the New Testament. Nobody wants to employ someone with a disabled person in their family. Nobody would ask to marry them because they have a brother or sister who’s disabled. I heard about a family with a downs syndrome boy who’s now almost 15 years old. And what they did with him was put a leash around his neck and put him with the animals. In most cases the disabled people are locked inside. They’re not taken outside at all.”
NEO’s work in this community started with one leader, a staff member who was given a vision from God to serve the marginalized—specifically those with special needs. This leader tried to recruit a team but nobody would go with him. He went anyway. God has now given him an incredible team, including many people with special needs. This ministry has grown so big that one of the team members with a team of volunteers is overseeing 582 different Discovery Bible Study groups spread out over 14 villages! And that’s just one person’s load!
In total, the “Ones that Jesus Loves” team serves 2,550 people with disabilities, and each of their families as well. Here are a few examples of what that looks like...
One man, Kaiden*, who became paralyzed at age four and experienced rejection his whole life as a result, found acceptance in Jesus. “God does not look at me as a paralyzed person. He fulfills me. He gives me peace and joy. Who can do this except God?” Though he can’t walk, Kaiden climbs onto a donkey and travels from village to village, sharing about Jesus with others.
Fran*, who has a beautiful smile full of joy, also has a physical disability. She says that Jesus gave her dignity for the first time. Nobody cared about her or those like her, but now she is proud of her disability and she uses it to reach others. Because of the dignity and purpose she’s found in bringing other people to Jesus, Fran has the courage to take public transportation. She feels God’s presence with her when she travels around, visiting her Discovery Bible Study groups. Fran overseas two villages and 25 Discovery Bible Study groups.
Another of the leaders who is “one that Jesus loves,” went to visit a family to tell them about Jesus and start a Discovery Bible Study. This leader uses a wheelchair. When he showed up at the home of the new family, he lowered himself out of his chair and slid across the floor using his arms, in order to embrace the other guy with a physical disability. As he moved across the floor, the father, who was a hard man, said, “Whoever this Jesus is that would send a man to my home to love my son like this, this is the God I will follow forever.” He decided to follow Jesus that day because of the love he experienced.
As the team reaches out to love these vulnerable individuals and families, the chains of shame are broken, dignity takes root, and freedom is the fruit. As a result, instead of experiencing shame and hiding the “one that Jesus loves” in the house, families begin telling others about this Jesus that changed their lives forever.
This ministry is run by CRM / Novo's partner organization in the Middle East, NEO. Special thanks to Mark Thrash, director of CRM / Novo’s Partner Development Team, and his wife Jamie for sharing many of the details about this ministry’s impact after a recent visit to Egypt.