Too Much or So Much?

The task of reaching the Middle East with the gospel can feel like too much—but we have not been left alone.

While we were living in the Middle East, we often found ourselves trying to translate English sayings into Arabic.

Sometimes this worked—but sometimes it didn’t! At the same time, our Arabic-speaking friends would say things in English that they were translating from Arabic, and often the sayings left us smiling. Over time, we found ourselves saying things the Arabic way—expressions like “thinking in a loud voice” instead of “thinking out loud,” or “welcome in Jordan” instead of “welcome to Jordan.”

Sometimes, however, what our friends thought they were saying wasn’t really what they were communicating. One of the most common mistakes involved the use of the English word too. The proper definition in English of the word too is “to a higher degree than is desirable, permissible, or possible; excessively.” It usually carries a negative connotation, as in “I have eaten too much,” or “It is too far to go.” Our Arab friends, however, would use too in place of so or a lot. They would say, “You have too much stuff,” instead of “You have a lot of stuff.” The difference is subtle, but when you tell someone, “I love you too much” instead of “I love you so much,” the feeling is very different!

As we think about reaching Arabic speakers with the gospel, often the task feels like too much. There is too much work to do, too many barriers to the gospel, and too few laborers. In the majority of Middle Eastern countries, over 95 percent of the population follows Islam. Many people have not had the opportunity to hear the gospel—and many have never met a believer. And many regions of the Middle East face religious conflict, political tension, and societal instability. Our mission to reach the Arab population can feel overwhelming and can leave us wondering, should we even try?

However, when we change the word too to a lot, it takes on a different tone. There is a lot of work to do, a lot of barriers to the gospel, and not a lot of laborers. It is still a big task, but it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

And then we remember that we have not been left to do this work alone: the God of all grace, all knowledge, and all power carries the yoke with us. The task pales in comparison with the love of God. We serve a God who so loved the world, and because of his love, we are commanded to let our light so shine. Jesus said, “As my Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And so we can face the daunting task of reaching the Arabic-speaking world with the gospel—not by feeling discouraged or overwhelmed, but with courage and faith. God loves the Middle East more than we ever could, and he is working to draw all men unto himself.

With this in mind, we ask: Will you join us in this grand task? Will you pray that God will break down barriers and soften hearts? Will you give so that laborers can be sent into the harvest? Will you go—to the refugee next door, to the foreigner across town, or to the stranger across the globe—and share the love of Christ with those under the shadow of Islam?

You Can Help Reach the Unreached With the Gospel

We at ABWE believe that God is raising up a new generation to go to some of the farthest frontiers of missions. Recognizing that time is short, and eternity matters, we’ve launched the Open Initiative to send 7 teams to unreached people groups in the next 7 years. Explore how you can join us through prayer, sending, supporting, or going.