Our extremities are God's opportunity.
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          Most of us don't go out looking for an experience that will press us to the wall, confound us, even dare us to fail.  But being a tentmaker in a closed country is all about challenge. Every day. Everything you do. Everywhere you turn. 

Are you surprised?  Do you expect dilemmas? Do you have what it takes to meet them?  Don't just turn around.

This issue of CALLED shares some of the challenges tentmakers in our region have met and, to put it on record, how they saw God take advantage of each one.  Even though the names have been changed, their stories are current and real--and filled with promise that God will do the same for you. 


Jon Karl
          I grew up a Seventh-day Adventist. The Sabbath was rooted in my memories, my habit. Even though I never decided Sabbath-keeping didn’t matter, when we moved to the Middle East I was asked to work occasionally for special occasions. 

I was not comfortable. Under the Holy Spirit's conviction, I finally decided I really wanted to be faithful in keeping the Sabbath. So I asked my pastor for a letter explaining my Sabbath to my employer, the principal of our school where I taught physical education.
When he received the letter, he called me in. “Jon, we like you and we don’t want to let you go. If I let you skip our Saturday functions, everyone is going to come with excuses, and I would have to give time off to everyone. But maybe you can talk to your pastor. He can give you permission. Or talk to your wife.”   MORE

Tentmakers' Common Challenges
     Years of feedback from seasoned tentmakers reveals 13 challenges that a tentmaker is likely to face--the "hazards" of a cross-cultural mission in the  professional workplace. You might not experience all of them, and probably not in this order.  But some of them might sound so familiar that you could've submitted them yourself!  The list itself is not to discourage you, but to remind you that you're not alone.  Some challenges come with the territory, but no challenge is beyond God's reach.
          13       Finding and keeping housing
          12       Visa and residence issues
          11       Difficulties with bosses and coworkers
          10       Long work hours
            9       Cultural frustrations
            8       Maintaining focus on ministry 
            7       Instant communication with home
            6       Other people's agendas
            5       Spiritual oppressio
            4       Team conflicts and fellow tentmakers
            3       Maintaining personal spiritual life
            2       Materialism
            1       Relating outside the ex-pat world
Adapted from Tentmakers Today, March 2019, a quarterly e-journal prepared as an independent, non-denominational service to Christian tentmakers worldwide.  To read more, visit

He Gives His Word


          If you can identify with even a handful of tentmakers' most common challenges listed above, you know how much time and energy can be invested in worrying about them, dealing with them,  even questioning your calling because of them. 

But if they're a weight on you, be assured that they're not burdensome to God. Scripture is the record of how He meets challenge.  Consider this list of some of the best assurances He gives that He knows, He's working, He'll show you what your part is.   MORE

In the hour of greatest need,
when discouragement would overwhelm the soul,
it is then that the watchful eye of Jesus
sees that we need His help.

The hour of man's necessity is the hour of God's opportunity.
When all human support fails,
then Jesus comes to our aid,
and His presence scatters the darkness
and lifts the cloud of gloom.

Ellen White in Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 4, page 529


Patricia's tentmaking experience may seem to be one disappointment after another.  But follow each bold-face fact as it gives way to God's creative response.

          The question hung over me more than I liked. What kind of mission could I have here?  I spent a lot of my work time alone in a lab.  The feeling of frustration was just within arm's reach day after day.  This was not even close to my dream of being a tentmaker.  

To back up:  After getting my engineering degree as a Waldensian student* I was told there was very little chance I could ever break into such 
a competitive market.  But I decided to apply anyway; I wanted to give God a chance to open something up if that's what He wanted for me.  To my shock, I got a job offer.  I thought my dream of being an engineer and a missionary at the same time had come true!!
But I learned right away that 
being a tentmaker is a lot different than being a student.   MORE


          As a Total Employment (TE) tentmaker in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, you've become accustomed to the encouragement and friendship of our MENA TE team.  But recently Mindi, who has served as recruiter/chaplain for three years, and Brian, who has developed and coordinated the MENA TE initiative over the past seven years, have both transitioned to other ministries.  

Brian, a professional artist, has accepted the opportunity to chair the Graphic Design & Digital Media Department at Middle East University (MEU) in Beirut, Lebanon. It is a loss to all of us, but in the larger picture of God's work across the region he will be nurturing the next generation of tentmakers as he shares his burden for missions on the MEU campus.  Mindi, and her tentmaker husband, Phil, have returned to the States, where Phil is teaching high school and Mindi is working with the Arab immigrant population in the Washington DC area.  They look forward to returning to MENA again some day as tentmakers!

Pray for them. Pray for the Total Employment initiative. Pray for those who will take leadership.  Progress has already been made in putting a new team in place, and we look forward to introducing the changes soon and continuing our witness together.



A very old
tentmaker's story

Theodore probably never called himself a tentmaker, although he certainly knew the story of Paul's marketplace ministry very well.  But as he cobbled shoes and witnessed, he lived an important part of God's story in our region--a record of faith, challenges, and God's provision for all that he needed.  To jump into the middle of the story--

         After only two years since immigrating to America, Theodore discovered that God had a special job for him. In January of 1889 Theodore felt deeply impressed to return to Turkey to preach the gospel message.  The land of his birth, which he had waited 28 years to leave, now beckoned him as it had once beckoned the apostle Paul. . . . Theodore obeyed the voice he had come to recognize.  No sponsor, no church involved, no promises of financial support.  
Within weeks he proceeded to sell his house and his business in California to become a self-supporting missionary in Turkey. For the full account of sacrifice and conviction, continue reading...

CALLED  First Quarter 2019
Copyright © 2019 MENA Total Employment, All rights reserved. 

"I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate My righteousness.
I will take you by the hand and guard you,..and you will be a light to guide the nations." 

Isaiah 42:6

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MENA Total Employment · Middle East North Africa Union · Ferdous Street, Sabtieh · Beirut 1107 · Lebanon

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