Saudi Arabia (MNN) — FMI staff recently visited Saudi Arabia. Bruce Allen says it was an exploratory trip for potential future ministry.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has issued tourist visas, wanting to be open to the West. Allen says, “I expected to see a bit more opulent wealth in the country from all their petroleum dollars. But that’s not what I saw.” For instance, about a third of all the cars he saw had significant dents.
Allen says, “I’m realizing that one of the reasons they’re opening up to the West is they want to develop tourism and business opportunities. Because they realize that the oil industry for their country is going to dry up soon.”
Allen moved around the country freely, interacting with many different people. Everyone greeted him in a friendly manner. He saw fewer women out and about, and those he did see had to wear black veils.
Allen encountered underground churches for foreign workers in the country. He visited three congregations, each with 15 to 30 people.“Some of the congregations that I visited were meeting in a rented apartment building. They converted the living room of that flat to be the worship center. One of the bedrooms in the apartment became the pastor’s office.”
“It’s convenient, but also means that the churches are small.”
Saudi believers must be even more careful, as the government forbids citizens from leaving Islam. Allen hopes to meet more of these people on future trips. “Because if FMI wants to come in and develop partnerships with indigenous church planters, it’s going to take some time to build relationships and trust. We first need to identify the key leaders of Saudi Christians.”
Ask God to give FMI wisdom about future ministry in Saudi Arabia.