Friday, October 23, 2009

WMC 09 - Friday Plenary 2 - Middle East

The birthplace of Christianity and the place from which the first missionaries were sent out, is now a hard place for the church to prosper. The various Christian congregations in the Middle East are beset by many difficulties including: descrimination, persecution, occupation, internal conflict, economic hardship and emigration. But the witness of those mission personnel who shared was strong and joyful, focused on ministries of reconciliation.

Dr. Mary Mihail - Presbyterian Church in Lebanon & Near East School of Theology
The Near East School of Theology, founded by Presbyterians in the 1800's, has added a Christian/Muslim forum for discussion and to build relationships.

Nuhad Tomeh - Liaison to Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, PC(USA)'s primary partner in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria & the Gulf States
Many in the Middle East (Muslim & Christian alike) wonder whether God is still there or whether God has given up on his people. The church continues to proclaim the power of resurrection & God's continued presence and hope. Refuge ministry is a major connector of Christians. Ministry in this area is risky and at least one missionary has been martyred in recent years.

Rev. Guy whose name I can neither pronounce nor spell from the Presbyterian Church in Iran
Yes there is a Presbyterian Church in Iran. Our speaker offered a powerful testimony of growing up Muslim in Europe, being converted by God through a PC(USA) Missionary and then being ordained to ministry in the Iranian Presbyterian Church. He wanted to counteract the American image of Iran with news of how God is working there through Muslims.
  • A new translation of the New Testament was recently produced by a leading Muslim scholar and published by the Iranian government. It is a Persian translation of the French translation of the New Jerusalem Bible.
  • A local Muslim government official having a dream in which the Virgin told him to help the community's Presbyterian Church and the subsequent municipal funding of essential building repairs.
  • Muslim students helping the main Presbyterian church in Tehran organize its extensive theological library, a gift from generations of missionaries.
  • Persian translations, by Muslims, of great Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Calvin, Thomas a Kempis, etc.
Doug Hicks, PC(USA) Missionary in Jordan
Echoed much of what had been previously said.

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