AMMAN, JORDAN – In a strategic gathering of Middle Eastern, European and American Christian leaders, westerners were given an inside view of the Middle Eastern Church’s struggle in a war-torn land.
Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding’s (EMEU) Sounds of Hope II conference was held in Amman, Jordan on Oct. 15-18. It was a time for over 70 select individuals from various ministries to hear from 11 speakers with experience in the Middle East Church.
According to Dr. Ray Bakke, EMEU chair, the conference was held out of a concern that ignorance in the West was negatively influencing the worldwide Church. “We had people who are evangelical who thought that every Arab was a terrorist or a fat oil sheik,” he said.
EMEU’s purpose is to break down those stereotypes through direct dialog and help to build relationships and understanding across different cultures. As Bakke put it, “It’s not an organization, it’s a conversation.”
Three aspects stood out for Tom Bower, an attendee from Iowa: exposition of biblical material as it relates the Middle East today, a clearer definition of the area’s political and economic issues, and “wonderful networking” between Church leaders from across the globe and across the denominational spectrum.
Speakers from Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq shared on everything from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to America’s role in the Middle East, to a loving Christian response to Islam.
Dr. Nabeel Jabbour shared his concern that, after September 11th, some Christians would quit praying for and ministering to Muslims. “If that happens it will be the biggest setback in the history of missions,” he said. “Muslims are about 1.4 billion people in the world. It’s predicted that by the year 2020 they’ll become a quarter of humanity. If we consciously or unconsciously omit them from the Great Commission it will become no more the Great Commission; it will be the Great Omission.”