Raised in an Assemblies of God church in the Middle East, Nabil Bandak says it was a clear calling from God that brought him to work with the Purpose Driven Team at Saddleback Church. Without knowing anyone in Southern California, he looked on a map to see how far his new home would be from his than-current one in Jordan.
Committed to the calling, in 2016 he traveled from the Middle East to Lake Forest where he rented a home five minutes from Saddleback Church. During his 35-years in volunteer ministry in Jordan, Nabil had taught The Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, and was familiar with Pastor Rick Warren’s teachings.
That first weekend in town, Nabil attended Saddleback’s Lake Forest campus, waiting for the moment when God would reveal his plan.
“I saw Pastor Rick greeting people after service, so I went over to introduce myself,” recalls Nabil. “Pastor Rick said, ‘Nabil, I know a person who would be interested in meeting you.’ So he led me over to Mike Constantz who was baptizing people.’
On that Sunday, the two were introduced. On Monday, Nabil received a call from Pastor Mike who oversees The PEACE Plan. When he heard about Nabil’s connections to Jordan, he knew this was God’s way of bringing The Purpose Driven (PD) Movement to the Middle East. Realizing his life would never be the same, Nabil returned to Jordan to tie up loose ends.
Shortly after, Nabil sold his construction company and his interior design business with 23 employees. He left it all behind to pursue full-time ministry, although he didn’t yet know how or where. In the interim, Nabil translated PD resources, CLASS curriculum, PD Essentials, and other materials into Arabic.
In April 2018, Nabil was invited to the Evangelicals Arab Pastors and Leaders Conference at the Billy Graham Training Center in North Carolina. The annual conference hosted pastors and leaders of Arabic speaking churches and ministries. Seeing an opportunity to equip leaders, Nabil led an impromptu three-minute presentation on The Purpose Driven Church. That brief synopsis led to 15 pastors wanting to attend the Purpose Driven Church Conference in June 2018.
For Nabil, he says it’s an easy concept to share because it’s 100 percent biblically based; plus, the need is so great in the Middle East.
“It has to be widely spread there,” he says. “Churches are growing, but they don’t have methods and tools to expand and sustain healthy growth. What I envision, is that I can be part of the PD movement.”
The timing to bring PD to the Middle East — and to local Arabic speaking churches in the U.S. — has never been better, he says. While the demand for PD structure is high, the approach is challenging with many churches staying off-line and under the radar to avoid confrontation. Since many members are former Muslims, infiltrating the church and exposing their faith comes with great risk.
“There are 317 Arabic-speaking churches in the US,” says Nabil. “There’s great work to do. Now God has revealed a new vision; he has shown me water flowing from California all across the United States.”
To learn more about starting a Purpose Driven Church, visit pd.church/start.