Tag Archives: Middle East

Reunited in Orlando: Convention 2019 Speaker, Attendee Connect 19 Years Later

Anne Nelson (far left) and Samir Salibi (second from left) in Orlando.

By Carl Stagner

All she wanted to do was feel closer to her Lebanese family. Anne’s great grandfather was Lebanese and used to write letters to her as a child. The more Anne learned, and the older she got, the more she desired to uncover her Middle-Eastern roots. What if she could communicate with her Lebanese relatives in their language? she wondered, especially after her grandfather passed away. Learning the Arabic language wasn’t in high demand among the public schools in her area, though, presenting a short-lived challenge. Since France had colonized Lebanon in the early to mid-1900s, Anne knew French would be an alternative option. It was Anne’s love for the language that led her to leave her hometown behind in 2000 for a journey that would ultimately bring together the stories of Convention 2019, Samir Salibi, and the financial controller for Servant Solutions: Anne Nelson. Continue reading

Facebook Seminary: Pakistan Pastors-in-Training Plug In with AU Professor

Students in Pakistan gather around a laptop…

By Carl Stagner

God is on the move through the Church of God in Pakistan, and it’s a breathtaking sight to behold. On Saturday evenings, seminary students in the Middle Eastern country assemble to hear Sarah Blake LaRose teach hermeneutics and exegesis. But Sarah is not in the same room—not exactly, anyway. Ten time zones away, it’s Saturday morning in Anderson, Indiana, where the AU professor has logged on to Facebook Messenger. There she lectures on the topic of Scripture interpretation, fielding questions and interacting with her pastors-in-training in Pakistan. Continue reading

Advent in Egypt

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Photo: Zeke Oldham (far left) plays role of son of the “wise family.”

By Ken Oldham

While winter sets in for most of the United States, it is becoming winter here in Cairo, too, though it does not have the same look or feel. The colder temperatures swept into the city this week, dropping us momentarily into the 60-degree range; this came with the first bursts of rainfall this year, then heavy winds and dust storms. The temperatures will get cooler in the next couple months, but it is already cold inside, as homes are built to release heat. Continue reading

Fairfax Church Adopts Syrian Refugee Family

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Photo: The airport welcoming team with the refugee family.

By Carl Stagner

Earlier this year, a report was released indicating that the total number of displaced persons in the world is higher than it’s ever been. At the end of last year, the refugee agency for the United Nations estimated the figure at more than 65 million people.* Staggering statistics like these suggest to some that finding solutions is a lost cause. But Fairfax Community Church, our Church of God congregation with campuses in Fairfax, Virginia, and Clarksburg, Maryland, determined that something had to be done. Boldly stepping into unknown territory, their missions staff cut through red tape and navigated a myriad of challenges until they got the answers they were looking for. Because of their efforts, Fairfax Community Church now celebrates the “adoption” of a Syrian refugee family. Continue reading

Women in Ministry: What Would People Think?

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By Nabil Safi

“What would people think?” is a common response I often got in the past, and still get today, when I have conversations about senior leadership with women from the Middle East. The fear of being judged has crippled women in general to be thriving in the community at-large and, in particular, inside the local church. The fact that a woman lives in a lopsided society that promotes males over females makes it very difficult for her to navigate the conflicting values of equality and personal achievement versus honor-shame and community’s best interest. Consequently, when faced with an invitation to lead, her immediate response is, What would people think? Continue reading

My Refugee Encounters

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By Christy Kihm

It’s hard for many of us to imagine what a refugee looks like in everyday life. So our definition is created for us by the media, Facebook posts, and stories that catch our attention. Daniel and I have been lucky enough to get to have that definition shaped by personal experience. Continue reading

Christ Amid Crisis: Syrian Refugees Loved by ‘People of the Messiah’

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By Carl Stagner

They’re not just “swarms” or “masses” of people. They’re people. They’re individuals. They’re individuals for whom Christ died. One of the most complex issues of our day has hit the Middle Eastern country of Turkey especially hard. The Syrian refugee crisis—as it has been dubbed—offers no simple solutions, no easy answers. While the Church of God strategically prepares a holistic, long-term response, believers in Turkey are busy meeting immediate needs. Known by the refugees as “people of the Messiah,” Christians in the region are boldly loving the “least of these.” Ruth Lyons, Church of God contact on-the-ground (Eurasia Ministries), gives us a closer look. Continue reading

Headlines in Perspective: European Refugee Crisis

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By Carl Stagner

Millions of innocent people are displaced in what has been called the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Homes are broken and families are being torn apart as a result of civil war in Syria that has lingered on into its fifth year. Many caught in the middle have crossed the Syrian border into neighboring countries and beyond, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and parts of Eastern Europe. Millions more, stuck within the Syrian border, have been left homeless and hopeless. Instead of simply putting a Band-Aid on the escalating refugee crisis, the Church of God is seeking long-term, holistic approaches. Ken Oldham, pastor for Global Strategy to Egypt, cuts through the confusion to the heart of the matter. Continue reading

Disaster Relief: Church of God Responds to Syrian Refugee Crisis

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“Where is justice?” “Where is stability?” “What can I do?” The body of the young Syrian boy washed up on the beach this past week and the thousands of refugees attempting to cross into the European Union challenge us and demand our attention, provoking questions. Continue reading

New Book from Warner Press Explains Events in the Middle East

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At Church of God Convention later this month, Warner Press will release a timely new book by cross-cultural missionary Patrick Nachtigall. Titled Facing Islam without Fear, the book covers the dramatic changes occurring in the Middle East and argues that Christians cannot live in fear of the upheaval occurring in the Islamic world.

The news media has become a very poor source for understanding the complexity of the Islamic world. “Most of us who have traveled, worked, or lived extensively in the Islamic world are struck by the friendliness of the people, their knowledge of politics and history, and the intellectual sophistication of many of the people we meet,” Nachtigall writes. The book breaks through the misinformation and simplistic analysis found in the media, but also forcefully argues in-depth that the rise of Islamic extremism indicates that Islam itself is in upheaval. Continue reading

Dentist Delivers Hope, Healing to ISIS-Ravaged Iraq

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Photo: David Sperow offers dental services in Iraq.

By Carl Stagner

Some would say only a fool runs into a burning building. But any good parent would brave the blaze to save a son or daughter in danger. In many Middle Eastern countries today, children of the heavenly Father are facing raging infernos on a daily basis. David Sperow, a dentist from Eastland Church of God in Lexington, Kentucky, has discovered that when God’s concerns become our concerns, we look at every soul as worth saving—regardless of the flames that may flare up on all sides. David recently delivered relief supplies to refugees in Iraq who have been displaced by ISIS. Considering what’s at stake, it’s nothing for David Sperow to storm the gates of hell and reclaim what has been stolen. Continue reading

Violence in the Middle East: Update from Egypt

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Following the brutal execution of twenty-one Christian Egyptians in Libya, concerns about the safety of the Church of God in the region have been expressed. We give thanks to God that Ken and Keli Oldham, as well as the Church of God congregations in Egypt, are safe. Ken offers the following context for a video update uploaded earlier today: Continue reading

When Your Children Are Threatened: Persecution in Pakistan

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By Church of God Missions

Recently the world has been reminded of the Pakistan Blasphemy Law 295 under which a Christian mother, Asia Bibi, has been sentenced to death. This case was appealed and upheld largely because each Christian witness who testified in her defense only counted as half a witness, while the Muslim witnesses for the prosecution counted fully.

In a country where a Christian can be accused of blasphemy against Islam, and the courts cannot be counted on to judge fairly, fear reigns. Christians are a minority group and are regarded as having low intelligence, and habits which make them unclean, and as people undeserving of respect or decent treatment. To attempt to rise above this image can bring immediate trouble. For this reason, many Christians now live in colonies which are the neighborhoods they form as they cluster in less desirable parts of town to get away from the watchful eyes of people who wish them harm. In the colonies, Christians find safety and relief from religious pressures. Continue reading

ISIS Crisis: Church of God Sends Disaster Relief to Refugees

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Photo: Refugees flee ISIS.

An interview with Ruth Lyons

In September, Church of God Ministries Disaster Relief Committee sent $10,000 in emergency aid to support relief efforts in Turkey for refugees affected by ISIS. An interview with a Church of God contact on the ground offers a glimpse into the kind of vital ministry that is made possible by your support.

Reports indicate you are working with those who have never heard the gospel. Are you saying there are still unreached peoples groups in our world today?
The Bible tells us that there will be people of every tribe, every tongue, and every nation worshiping at the throne in heaven, but the job of telling everyone is not yet done. In 2014, there are still many people in the Middle East where we don’t know of a single Christian among them. Continue reading

ISIS Crisis Confronted by CHOG Layperson, Pastor

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Photo: Medical clinic in northern Iraq.

By Carl Stagner

You’ve seen it on the news. You’ve agonized over the reports of torture and beheadings. You’re aware of how serious the situation in Iraq and Syria has become. Perhaps you’ve been on your knees, petitioning the Lord to provide for the persecuted, to protect the innocents, and to bring peace. If you’ve done so, then your prayers have not gone unanswered. By the prayerful support of men and women across the world, the Lord has granted David Sperow of Eastland Church of God in Lexington, Kentucky, the resources to bring hope to Christian refugees in Iraq. Continue reading