The idea behind Al Massira began on the streets of the largest city in the Arab world – Cairo. The vision was birthed in prayers seeking for a new way to express our faith in Jesus Christ in a clear manner from the heartland of the Biblical narrative – the Middle East. The prayer began to take shape in the form of a film-based documentary that could be used with small groups of friends. This setting would be an ‘open place’ where ideas can be shared honestly and freely, discussion enjoyed and questions asked. Friendships could grow and no-one would feel under pressure to accept the message. It would be a place where truth can be explored in the context of hospitality, food, fellowship and prayer – and where the living God can be invited to reveal himself.
A small team began to form in Cairo to work on the vision. At its heart were Middle Easterners with a passion to give a voice to the Good News expressed from within their own culture and worldview.
The project took on the name Al Massira, meaning ‘the journey’, which reflects the quest and exploration of truth that many people are searching for. At the same time the idea emerged of a chronological journey through both the Old and New testaments. It is through the stories of the prophets and the signs in the scriptures that we can understand the world we live in, who we are and who God is. Following prophets such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and John the Baptist we reveal the person and work of Christ as well as the triune nature of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It is a journey of discovering the treasure of knowing a loving God. Al Massira has been formed from the streets of the Middle East – where there are real challenges to the message and identity of Christ. This has helped shape a storytelling of the Messiah that responds to the kinds of questions and issues that are common in this kind of context. While the programmes have been written for such an audience the only source is the Bible. Al Massira refers to no other religious beliefs and makes no comparisons or judgments of other faiths.
The filming took place in 13 countries and took one and a half years to complete. Locations were chosen in North Africa, the Middle East, the Gulf and Europe. Much of the filming was in or near the locations where the Bible accounts actually took place. The participants come from across the Arab world; they speak in their own dialects and express themselves naturally using everyday language. The filming was made with minimal crew and equipment and on a small budget. The successful completion of the Al Massira resource is considered a miracle by those who have worked on it. The Lord’s hand has been evident at every stage and in every detail: from the writing of scripts to filming in difficult and even hostile locations; from the provision of finances and key people to the final video editing and preparation of the written resources.
Al Massira was launched in early 2011 – thirteen years after its birth. People in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia have been trained to use the resource. Many people are now finding Al Massira to be a powerful resource in sharing their faith in the message of Jesus.