Jordan (MNN) –On September 11, 2001, a terrorist attack fueled by religious extremism changed America. In the last 18 years, 9/11 has shaped Americans’ perceptions of the Middle East, Muslims, and the Arab people.
In 2016, The New York Times reported how hate crimes against American Muslims increased to the highest levels since the attack. For the most part, Arab Christians in the Middle East have also felt forgotten by their brothers and sisters in the United States.
Stories From the Arab World
Kris Kuhlman is an American working with Program for Theological Education by Extensions (PTEE) in Jordan. She is using stories of her experiences to raise awareness of the Arab Church and chip away at some possible misperceptions of the culture in the Middle East.
Earlier this year Kuhlman returned to U.S. soil and spent time traveling to various states, churches, small groups, and more to share about PTEE’s *work. Kuhlman notes she encountered misperceptions about the Middle East, mostly relating to relationships.
For example, specifically focusing on Jordan, Christians are a religious minority in the country. The term Christian often references a non-Muslim. It is a cultural classification people are born into, and it is marked on an individual’s identification card.
“It’s not just your religious identity, but it’s your cultural and your family identity. It will determine where you go to school. It will determine maybe even who you marry, so many things about your life. But what the term Christian does not necessarily mean, in the Arab world, is that you are a follower of Jesus Christ,” Kuhlman explains.
Cultural or nominal Christians tend to be less religious when compared to the majority religion of Islam. However, Evangelical Christians, Christians who believe in the triune God and follow Jesus, are less than one percent of the population.
This is why Kuhlman tells people she meets that she loves God. But, she makes it clear she is a follower of Christ. These facts separate Kuhlman from the majority religion and the nominal Christian stereotypes.
Plus, Kuhlman’s Christian beliefs open opportunities for her to have deep spiritual conversations with her Muslim friends. However, since Evangelicals in the country barely represent a fraction of the population, the Christian community needs the support of their Western brothers and sisters. But first, this requires the Church in the West to realize the Arab Church exists.
Remember the Church in Jordan
A hope? That as American Christians become more educated about the Middle East, have a fuller picture of the cultural complexities, and recognize the Arab Church exists.
Will you remember the Arab Church? Begin by adding it to your prayer list.
Pray for the protection and strength of Christians living in Jordan, the Middle East, and the rest of the Arab World. Pray for God to lift up their work and ministry, and for the Gospel of Christ to impact the local cultures. Also, pray for PTEE as the ministry does the work of educating leaders.
Finally, pray American Christians will become more aware of how Arab Christians are doing incredibly important work in the Middle East, specifically in Jordan. And pray American Christians would come alongside their Arab brothers’ and sisters’ ministries.
Join us tomorrow as we dive deeper into PTEE’s work, why it is strategic and important, and how the American Church can help.
*PTEE is providing vital theological education to church leaders through the Middle East and the Arab diaspora. For an affordable price, church leaders can study with PTEE without ever leaving their communities. Plus, they can directly apply their education while working with their churches. (Learn more about PTEE’s work here.)
Header photo by Stefanos Orovas on Unsplash.