Does Anyone Care About Arab Christians?

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VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
The RPCNA has been active in the Middle East since the nineteenth century. From Wikipedia:

• Missionaries were first sent to Syria in 1856. After a short exploratory period, several mission stations were organized in Latakia and the surrounding area. This mission was continued until the late 1950s, when Syrian governmental policies forced the RPCNA to cut its ties with the churches there.

• Work was begun in the area around Mersin, in Asia Minor, around 1882 and continued until around 1932.

• In 1888, work was begun in Cyprus, and congregations were established in Larnaca and Nicosia. Mission work continued until the 1970s. Today, a single congregation in Larnaca is affiliated with the RPCNA and is pastored by an RPCNA missionary, but is not related to the previous mission.

The present congregation on Cyprus is Trinity Christian Community Fellowship.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
In Bethlehem there is Baraka Bible Presbyterian Church, and the pastors, George and Danny Awad (father and son) are genuine -- and genuinely Reformed -- believers. I have fellowshipped with them both through the conferences & seminars of MERF at the John Calvin Centre in Cyprus.

Before we initiated English-language services the congregation in Limassol was almost entirely Arabic-speaking (I would preach and teach through translators).

A good book to read would be Elias Chacour's Blood Brothers -- this slim volume (with some others) turned me around in my views of the Jewish-Arab situation. A Jew, I had been indoctrinated by the American churches (& Messianic Jews) to a Zionist viewpoint. But no longer. I will post shortly some brief essay-type stuff here on this.

Steve

That is the church my wifes uncle was in. Did you know the Creamers? Or Dr Proctor?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I grew up across the street from a Roman Catholic man, Samir, who was kicked out of Palestine at gunpoint with his family in the 40's. His son and I were best friends until high school. Samir was an incredible entrepaneur and extremely intelligent - actually a trait I've found common in Arabic Christians in general.

I love Middle East hospitality and cuisine and miss the times I spent over at my friend's house. Many do not realize this but the Palestinian population was close to 50% "Christian" prior to the establishment of Israel.

If you really want to understand the geo-politics that went into much of the stuff in the Middle East I suggest a book called A Peace to End all Peace. It's not the whole story but it explains how the current "nations" were formed. I've heard Egyptians say that they're really the only true Arabic nation - the rest are just tribes with flags.

Anyhow, I saw my neighbor a few years back. Back in the mid 80's when I would visit, he had a number of other Arabic friends who were Muslim. No more. His Muslim friends now wanted nothing to do with him.

Truth is that I've never had a good impression of Israel from knowing what they did to many families. That said, the Arabs in the region don't really care in the least about the Palestinians. They're a convenient "cause" to focus Muslims rage away from the sorry conditions of their society. If Jordan or Syria wanted the Palestinians to have a homeland then they could have given it to them before they lost it to the Israelis in the 60's and 70's.

I really do feel bad, though, for the Christians. I one time heard a Christian brother relate that a Palestinian Christian once asked him why American Christians care more for the Jews than they do for Christians in the region.

Israel is very happy to get the support of Evangelicals politically but you can scarcely find a place on the planet that is more hostile to the Gospel.
 

salaam alaykoum

Inactive User
Samantha and Steve,

I am very interested in your experiences. I'm sure I'm not alone here. Please elaborate.

Hi David,
My 2 visits to Lebanon were family related and I was never in a situation where I could visit a church of born-again Lebanese people. I did meet a friend of my father (my aunt's neighbor) who was a member of one of the born-again Christian churches (distinguishing from the Orthodox, Catholic, and Maronite churches). Like I said, it was only last year sometime that a fellow Christian brother informed my family and me of MERF. Previous to that, we had no indication of any Reformed Christian Arabs, at least not in Lebanon. All I know so far is what I have learned from the MERF reports, sent out every few months by email and from the MERF website.

Mrs. Lisa Attallah (of MERF headquarters in Cyprus) sent me the WCF, Shorter Catechism and Larger Catechism in Arabic. I have also been told that they have paraphrased Psalms for singing.

On the evangelical, non-Reformed front, there has been a group of born-again, evangelical Arab Christians meeting here in Edmonton, for a number of years now. For a while, they had a minister, and were having worship services on Lord's Day mornings. They also had mid-week Bible studies which I occasionally attended with my father in my childhood. To the best of my knowledge, this group still meets during the week, but not on the Lord's Day.

On the broader scale, there are a number of Arab ministers and ministries which air broadcasts in Arab nations, including Moslem countries that are closed to missionaries. One of these ministries is Light For All The Nations (with Nizar Shaheen). There are also Arab Christian singers who have made recordings of Christian Arabic music, and who sing on some of these programs, providing the Arab Christian community with Christian music. There are also "choruses" and "hymns" in Arabic.

I'm sorry that I cannot be of more help to you. On a personal level, most if not all of my Lebanese family members are Christians in name only, but not in heart. I long for the day when the Lord will remove the hard, stony hearts and give them hearts of flesh, hearts filled with a saving knowledge of Christ as their Only Lord and Savior.

In Christ,
Samantha
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Most of what I know of the Christians in the Arabic-speaking world I know through intelligence from MERF. And I need to be discrete, lest I endanger some, as witness the recent killings in Turkey.

There is a vital church in Iraq, although the congregations in Bagdad and Mosul have been decimated by threats -- of kidnappings and murder -- against the congregations and especially the pastors and their families. Not to mention the realized kidnappings and murders. Many have fled to Syria, and other countries.

There is a vital church in Iran, although there is persecution there as well. We have folks from many sectors of the Muslim world here in Cyprus seeking refuge. A precious couple with two small girls fled Tehran lest the girls be taken from them by relatives, after the girls started talking freely about Jesus (the mother was converted, the father not). But after being in Cyprus for a while, with the steady, submissive example of his wife (a struggle, as her own mother was a feminist in Iran), along with the Bible studies and services he attended, the husband also came to Christ. When he was in detention for 5 months (expired visa -- now temporarily resolved) he became a "stand-up" believer, holding Bible studies for the other detainees. A hard 5 months for all the family, but they all grew amazingly from it. One of the girls (8), requested and received baptism. These attend a church other than mine, although we are close (most of the "evangelical" churches here are involved with one another).

And there are some bad experiences also, as with false brethren, seeking asylum here, but for motives other than genuine, and these wreak some havoc among the believers.

Likewise in Egypt, there is a vital church, although there the persecution of the evangelical believers -- apart from flare-ups, and which generally involve the Coptic church -- is mostly economic. It is exceedingly hard to find work there. Many men come to Cyprus, then "jump visa" (when it expires) and go underground / remain here illegally. As a result, fewer visas are now issued. I had one young Egyptian lawyer in our congregation who came here to find even construction work, as the sort of jobs he was given in Cairo, being a Christian, were the dregs; and which, he felt, threatened to engulf him in their sordidness, and seduce him from righteousness. He did return, though, as I was preaching on "submitting to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake" (1 Pet 2;13), and he felt that, as a lawbreaker, he was a poor witness. It is an issue I struggle with, how to help "illegals".

The church in south Sudan suffered greatly during the 15 or so years of war against them by the Muslim north. MERF does a tremendous work in various countries in Africa, primarily (as with the Sudanese) training indigenous pastors, elders, evangelists, etc.

My pastor friends in Bethlehem (mentioned in an earlier post) told me that they suffered more from the Orthodox church than from the Muslims. I heard the same from the evangelicals in Egypt. The Orthodox teach their people it is better to marry a Muslim than an evangelical!

MERF does a great work bringing the Reformed faith into the Arabic-speaking and Muslim world (they have a strong work in Indonesia, which is the largest Muslim country in the world, but they are not Arabs). Besides on-the-ground support and training, there are effective broadcasts, widely-heard via powerful transmitters, and interaction with listeners through letter, cell phone, and now the safer SMS messages. MERF also translates and publishes many Reformed books in Arabic; and obtains wonderful Reformed confessions and books in Farsi (Persian/Iranian), and also Singalese (Sri Lankan), and distributes them free.

My recent trip teaching mostly Sudanese in the training center in Kenya was under the auspices of MERF.

It is a great joy to learn of souls in Muslim lands who hear of Christ, and are found of Him, with joy cleaving to Him.

Steve
 
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