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All articles in category Western Asia

Evangelicals in Lebanon

Article

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

Article

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

Article

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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Article

September 2006
Lebanon

Lebanon profile

Lebanon is located north of Israel at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea and shares a border with Syria. It is a beautiful land of plains and mountains, with about 3.8 million inhabitants, nearly all Arab. Lebanon was once wealthy — an economic centre of the Middle East — but decades of war have destroyed its economy. Some rebuilding has taken place in recent years, but today Lebanon is a shadow of its former self. When Lebanon gained independence during World War II, power was apportioned among the various religious groups based on size. At that time, professing Christians were the largest group. Then...

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MISSIONARY SPOTLIGHT

Article

May 2006
Iraq

MISSIONARY SPOTLIGHT

Christianity in Iraq Many Mesopotamian Jews turned to Christ when the gospel was first preached, and their synagogues became Christian meeting places. But these soon succumbed to Nestorianism (a heresy teaching that the incarnate Christ was two separate persons – human and divine). Along with internal power struggles among the clergy, this weakened the churches and made them easy prey to invading Muslim armies (seventh century AD). Christians took refuge in the mountainous north and survived only because Sunni and Shia Muslims became distracted by internecine conflicts. By the early twentieth century, professing ‘Christians’ (Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox) made up 30% of the Iraqi...

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The Cyprus connection (1)

Article

May 2006
Cyprus

The Cyprus connection (1)

Cyprus is an ideal location for a late season holiday, and the temperatures were still in the mid-twenties at the end of November when we visited Paphos last year. There is a relaxing feel to this area, and a crime rate only 6% of that in Britain. There are only about 750,000 inhabitants in the whole island which measures 148 by 40 miles. The biblical links to Cyprus are fascinating. Although Cyprus is not mentioned by this name in the Old Testament, we can trace the origins of the earliest settlers to two of the great-grandsons of Noah — Elishah and Kittim (Genesis 10:4).  ...

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Missionary Spotlight – A storm in Turkey

Article

November 2005
Turkey

Missionary Spotlight – A storm in Turkey

Beside one of the beautiful Bosphorus bays in Istanbul lies the Bebek Park, where one can sit and watch large ships passing to and from the Black Sea. In the spring, steep wooded hills are ablaze with the red blossom of ‘Judas’ trees — which symbolise to Armenians the blood of the traitor Judas. In 1967, only a few months after we arrived in Turkey as missionaries, we befriended a poor family who lived in a small shed in this park. Each evening I visited them and was welcomed into their hovel, lit by an oil lamp. After tea served in tiny tea glasses and...

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Article

July 2005
Israel

Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah?

Richard Gibson of Christian Witness to Israel reports on a recent meeting in Durham:   Over seventy students came to hear Nick Howard, son of Conservative Party leader Michael Howard, address the question: ‘Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah?’ The event was part of a ‘Hot Potatoes’ series of talks organised by the Durham Intercollegiate Christian Union. Describing himself as a Jewish believer in Jesus (Yeshua HaMashiach), Nick went through some of the major Messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures and, in particular, Daniel 9. This Bible chapter played a big part in his own voyage of discovery, leading to faith in Christ. Nick’s discussion of...

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Article

August 2004
Armenia

Missionary Spotlight-Artur Marandyan’s testimony

I was born on 1 November 1975, in Kirovogam (now Fanatsor) in Armenia. I was brought up in a good family, being the oldest of three children. My parents were nominal Christians. One day in 1988 my parents took us children away with them on a business trip. But we never returned to Kirovogam, for in our absence a great earthquake had destroyed the town. We were evacuated to a sanatorium in the suburbs of Kharkov in Ukraine. I studied at a secondary school in Ukraine. But although I lived at home with my parents, I was now brought up by ‘the street’. I experimented...

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Article

August 2004
Armenia

Missionary Spotlight-Reaching the Ezids

It is estimated that there are 500,000 Ezids in the world today. Ezids are an ethnic group related to the Kurds, who live in Armenia, Georgia, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. About 50,000 live in the Ararat valley of Armenia, where Hope to People missionaries from the Ukraine have been working for over a year. The Armenians view Ezids as wild and uneducated. The Ezids in turn eschew civilization and isolate themselves from others, only marrying within their own people. Many are illiterate and live without electricity, gas or modern communication. Their occupation is subsistence farming and stock-rearing. Pioneer work   Ezids are one of the...

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Missionary Spotlight – Women of Turkey

Article

March 2004
Turkey

Missionary Spotlight – Women of Turkey

  Millions of Turkey’s city-dwellers live in apartments. The doorman or kapiciis the caretaker of an apartment block, and every block employs one. He and his family usually live rent-free in a dark basement apartment, close to the central-heating boiler room.   His wife is responsible for cleaning the staircases and getting up early to buy bread, water and newspapers for all the families, on all the floors. To supplement their meagre income, she usually takes on cleaning jobs for the better-off. These kapici and their families are often uneducated villagers. They are low on the social scale, where scales are all-important. Affection   The...

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God’s peace in Bethlehem

Article

December 2003
Israel

God’s peace in Bethlehem

The Baraka Christian congregation in Bethlehem held its annual family conference recently. Pastor Victor Atallah spoke on the theme: ‘In Christ — one people of God and one offspring of Abraham’. Most families participating are Palestinians from Bethlehem and the nearby towns of Beit-Jalla and Beit-Sahour. Some were able to secure Israeli government permits to come from the Jerusalem area. The Baraka congregation also includes international members from as far away as Korea and Sweden. Believers from other Palestinian communities, like Ramallah, Jericho, Gaza and Nazareth, were not able to secure passes to travel to Bethlehem. Participants in the conference prayed fervently that their testimony...

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