About Middle East
Since Middle Eastern nations gained independence following WWII, the region has known almost uninterrupted political strife, and economic struggle and stagnation, even as the population has boomed. With a total population today of about 188 million (up from 38 million in 1955!), most of whom are Muslims, the Middle East is bursting with rapidly growing, over-crowded cities and over-stretched infrastructure.
The parts of the region that border the Mediterranean enjoy a temperate climate. Much of Syria and Iraq are desert-like, and the vast majority of Egypt is desert.
The wars in Syria and Iraq over the past two decades have devastated the region. Numerous cities need rebuilding, and the multi-front war in Syria is still not over. Tens of thousands are merely focused on daily survival.
The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and the plight of the Palestinian people have exacerbated hatred among Middle Eastern Muslims toward the Jewish people. The tragic predicament of the Palestinian people continues to be a flash point for the region.
Poverty is growing across the Middle East since there is little industry and so many countries have suffered through repeated wars and internal conflict. The Egyptian population (100 million) has quadrupled since 1955! In Egypt’s cities, many people have to work two or three jobs in order to survive.
The Syrian civil war, Islamic State, and the war in Iraq have created millions of refugees and internally displaced peoples. The tiny countries of Lebanon and Jordan each host more than a million refugees. Egypt hosts nearly 5 million Sudanese refugees. All of these needy people put enormous strain on seriously over-stretched capacities.
Islam in the Middle East has experienced massive upheaval and reshaping over the past 40 years. Radicalized Muslims have disrupted the lives of millions since the Mullahs gained control of what was a secular Iranian revolution in 1979. They installed a radical and oppressive government run by Shia clerics.
The removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and the years of violence that followed shook Iraqi society to the core. The 2014-2019 rise and fall of Islamic State caused the deaths of tens of thousands and the destruction of dozens of towns and cities across Syria and Iraq. Sunni-Shia sectarianism is rampant, and most Iraqi Muslims appear to be weary of religiously motivated violence.
The brutal Syrian civil war has resulted in millions of displaced people and tens of thousands of disillusioned Syrian Muslims. In Egypt, the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood briefly came to power following a manipulated election, leading to widespread rejection of their radical brand of conservative Sunni Islam.
God is bringing much good out of the tragic turmoil distressing the Middle East. In Jordan, countless local Christians as well as many foreign NGOs are ministering to the hundreds of thousands of refugees. Many refugees are open to a better way and are drawn to the God of love they encounter in the Christians they meet.
A number of local evangelical churches in Lebanon are serving Syrian refugees in compassionate and creative ways. Many hundreds of Syrian Muslims are finding Christ. House churches among Syrian refugees are multiplying, and evangelical churches are bursting with new members to be discipled.
In Egypt, following the November 11, 2011 all-night prayer gathering attended by about 25,000 Egyptian Christians, many Muslims have been seeking Christ, visiting churches, and responding to the Gospel. One underground house church planting movement counts more than a million believers from Muslim background in their network. The horrific violence against Christians in Syria and Iraq has led to both a massive exodus of traditional Christians out of the region as well as a revival in the faith of many formerly nominal Christians