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All articles in category Western Asia

God at work in Saudi Arabia
January 2012
Saudi Arabia

God at work in Saudi Arabia

God at work in Saudi Arabia ‘Saudi women to be allowed to vote for the first time’; ‘Saudi woman sentenced to ten lashes for driving is later pardoned by the king’. Saudi Arabia can generate headlines like none other. With the Koran as its constitution, and as keeper of the two holiest sites in Islam, Saudi Arabia has sought to restrict the spread of Christianity. Yet, reports are coming in that God is at work in this desert kingdom of 26 million people. Church The church in Saudi Arabia has largely been confined to foreigners. Unlike other countries in the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia does...

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How Saudi Arabia treats Christians
September 2011
Saudi Arabia

How Saudi Arabia treats Christians

How Saudi Arabia treats Christians Saudi Arabia is home to the two holiest Muslim sites, Mecca and Medina, and the Saudi government, with its allied religious establishment, considers itself the authoritative voice of Islam. The Saudi king’s official title is ‘Custodian of the two holy mosques’, indicating the importance that the royal family attaches to Islam.    The region once had a large Christian population, which was expelled during the reign of Caliph Umar (AD 634-644) shortly after Muhammad’s death. Today, Saudi Arabia is one of the most conservative Sunni Muslim countries in the world, following an extreme and puritanical version of Islam called Wahhabism.   ...

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Missionary Spotlight – A great work in retirement
September 2009
Turkey

Missionary Spotlight – A great work in retirement

A great work in retirement   While serving Christ as missionaries with European Missionary Fellowship (EMF) in Turkey, in spring 1975, David and I were privileged to be the hosts to a retired Greek pastor from Piraeus, Athens.      Stavros Delianides had been invited to preach to the few remaining Greek Protestants in Istanbul over the Easter period. Seated around the kitchen table in our flat on the European side of the city, this dear gentleman, then in his mid-70s, told us his life story.      Stavros, ethnically Greek, had been born in Urdu on the Black Sea coast of Turkey, into a Greek Orthodox...

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Missionary Spotlight – Cyprus – meeting place of the nations
July 2008
Cyprus

Missionary Spotlight – Cyprus – meeting place of the nations

Cyprus’ meeting place of the nations   Cyprus, the easternmost island of the Mediterranean, is encircled by Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. It is a popular holiday destination for many Europeans and Middle Easterners, and is also a regional business centre.   There is much to see and do. Within walking distance of the John Calvin Centre (JCC), for instance, is the church which by tradition is the final resting place of Lazarus. A bit further on are the excavations of Kition, a settlement dating back thousands of years and founded by Kittim, the great grandson of Noah (Genesis 10:4).      None of this...

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Israel after sixty years
May 2008
Israel

Israel after sixty years

Israel after sixty years   The State of Israel was founded on 14 May 1948 and recognised by the United Nations the same day. The new State was the focus of Jewish hope. Hounded, humiliated, abused and misused by the nations for 2,000 years, the Jewish people would at last be an accepted member of the family of nations — sharing mankind’s hopes, burdens and victories, and making its contribution to the resolution of mankind’s woes.   The State was founded in a largely depopulated land covered with malarial swamps, denuded hills and deforested mountains. Decades of coura-geous, sacrificial struggle resulted in a blossoming agriculture,...

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June 2007
Turkey

Martyrs for Christ

Martyrs for Christ Three evangelical Christians have been murdered in Malatya, eastern Turkey, as they met for Bible study at the offices of a small Christian publishing company. The victims, a German missionary and two Turkish converts, were tortured before being killed. Ten Muslim religious students, all aged 19 or 20, have been arrested. The victims were Tilman Geske, husband and father of three from Germany; Necati Aydin, a local church pastor and father of two; and Ugur Yuksel, a young convert only recently engaged to be married. On Wednesday morning 18 April the men left their respective homes to gather at the premises of...

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Missionary Spotlight – Gospel seed in southeast Turkey
April 2007
Turkey

Missionary Spotlight – Gospel seed in southeast Turkey

We arrived in the early 1970s in Aintep (or Gaziantep) – Turkey’s eighth largest commercial city and a centre for the cotton industry. It was not long before we experienced its spiritual darkness. In Istanbul, the minority Christian population had substantially influenced the culture, so here it was a shock to see superstitious and occult practices mixed with Islam. Poverty was rife and many (both Kurds and Turks) struggled to survive, while a tiny minority, including our landlord, enjoyed great wealth. My husband David had secured a teaching post in the Super Lise School which this man had established for the elite. This enabled us...

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Missionary Spotlight – Gospel seed in southeast Turkey
April 2007
Turkey

Missionary Spotlight – Gospel seed in southeast Turkey

We arrived in the early 1970s in Aintep (or Gaziantep) – Turkey’s eighth largest commercial city and a centre for the cotton industry. It was not long before we experienced its spiritual darkness. In Istanbul, the minority Christian population had substantially influenced the culture, so here it was a shock to see superstitious and occult practices mixed with Islam. Poverty was rife and many (both Kurds and Turks) struggled to survive, while a tiny minority, including our landlord, enjoyed great wealth. My husband David had secured a teaching post in the Super Lise School which this man had established for the elite. This enabled us...

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September 2006
Lebanon

MERF and Lebanon

In 1971 Lebanon was a prosperous, democratic multicultural haven in the Arab world — a centre for business, education and tourism. But sadly, the 50,000 Lebanese Protestants identified in an early 1950s census had dwindled to barely 3000 regular churchgoers. Three young believers in Beirut, of various nationalities, met regularly for prayer, Bible study and the discussion of Reformed literature. They were united in a desire to ‘proclaim the whole counsel of God’ and to serve and guard ‘the church of God which he purchased with his own blood’. Together they established a growing fellowship. They began to sponsor lectures, seminars and other Christian activities...

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Evangelicals in Lebanon
September 2006
Lebanon

Evangelicals in Lebanon

There are an estimated 20,000 Protestants in Lebanon. These comprise Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Church of God, Nazarene, Brethren and Charismatics. The Presbyterian and Congregational churches are similar, and form 75% of the Protestant community. The Presbyterian Synod covers Lebanon and Syria (there are several thousand Presbyterians in Syria also). The evangelical missions that established Congregational and Presbyterian churches started work early in the nineteenth century. They founded the Syrian Protestant College (now the American University of Beirut) and the Beirut College for Women (now the Lebanese American University). Both today are secular institutions. Sadly, most of these churches no longer preach salvation. They are heavily...

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The struggle for Lebanon
September 2006
Lebanon

The struggle for Lebanon

This month’s missionary spotlight demonstrates that in the past Lebanon has played a unique role in Christian mission in the Middle East – surely a point not lost on Satan either. In this article we chart the conflicts that have raged over the last 60 years as Islamic forces have struggled to take control of Lebanon. Lebanon gained independence from France in 1943. Five years later the first Arab-Israeli war broke out and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled their homes, 150,000 of them finding refuge in Lebanon. Embittered and predominantly Muslim, they threatened the fragile balance of the country. In 1958 a short civil...

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Hezbollah
September 2006
Lebanon

Hezbollah

Hezbollah (Hizbullah, Arabic for ‘party of God’) is an Islamic political party and militia group ­functioning within Lebanon. It was founded during the Lebanese civil war of 1975-1990. In June 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon and sided with one of the country’s ‘Christian’ factions against the many other, mostly Muslim, factions. Other powers, including Syria and several Western countries, also played various roles in the civil war. Largely in response to Israel’s invasion, a group of Shiite Muslim clerics led by Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah established Hezbollah to promote Islam and to resist Western influences in Lebanon. Iranian influence The clerics’ politics and theology were inspired by...

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