The forgotten victims of war

By an Arab World Media team member

I last saw them in the spring of 2013. For three years they had shared their lives with me. For three seasons of Ramadan we had broken the fast together over the Iftar meals. Friday mornings were spent reviewing English assignments with the youngest, followed by the all-important Friday noon meal with their ever-growing family. They brought me into their home, into their family and into their hearts. They treated me with the utmost respect and honoured me with their friendship and amazing Yemeni hospitality. When the two oldest boys were married, I was ushered in on the arm of the groom’s mother. ‘If she doesn’t attend, there will be no wedding,’ she declared. They taught me a lot about their lives as well as the culture of their arid, mountainous land on the Arabian Peninsula. During the uprising of 2011, they guarded my home and cared for me, upholding the long-held Arab tradition of protecting the guest who lives amongst them. Their eldest son slept in my car at petrol stations for days to secure fuel, as it was not safe for me, as a foreign woman, to go near the stations, where queues were often ten miles long and gunfights broke out regularly. They would call my office daily to enquire if I had arrived safely and to remind me of the risky areas of the city that I should avoid. It didn’t matter that they were Muslims and I was a Christian. Their love for me outweighed any of our differences, and through that bridge of love we shared our lives and our faiths.

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Jesus the refugee

In Matthew 2:13-15, an angel appears to Joseph in a dream, telling him to get up, take Jesus and his mother, and go to Egypt. King Herod was searching for Jesus and wanted to kill him, so they had to leave everything and flee.

According to the UNHCR, by the end of 2014 there were 19.5 million refugees worldwide, plus 38.2 million internally displaced people (IDPs). During 2014, an average of 42,500 people left their homes each day to seek protection elsewhere.

In the Arab world, by December 2014, of the 11.6 million people of concern in Syria, 3.8 million were refugees and 7.6 million were IDPs. In Iraq, 4.1 million people were either internally or externally displaced. These figures do not include the thousands of forgotten people in war-torn Yemen, who are trapped in their own country, living from day to day in hellish conditions.

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Our God is unstoppable

It is always amazing to see how God relentlessly pursues Muslims. Here is yet another example from a member of our response team, who has been engaging with a Muslim woman from Egypt. Celebrate with us the birth of a new life!

Sabia* is a Muslim woman in her thirties. She is married, with two young girls, and lives in Upper Egypt, where she works as a teacher.

One night, Sabia had a dream… Jesus Christ came to her with a cross, which he placed inside her stomach. She felt as if she had a high fever and her body started to shake. Jesus put his hand on her back, and smiled as he told her not to be afraid. He promised to give her comfort and peace, and confirmed that he would be with her through all the coming days and that he would give her help. He was not young, as Sabia had seen in pictures at the Orthodox churches and in the homes of her many Christian friends and neighbours. He was old and wearing a white garment.

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Love never fails – immeasurably more

As the Love Never Fails initiative enters its tenth month, we want to give thanks to God. Please take a look at this snapshot summary of the key outcomes so far.

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Against all odds

A transformed life is all about putting God at the centre. The Christian faith is not just about holding to a set of beliefs, but about being transformed by them. No programme can transform the life of a person or a community the way God can!

We all struggle to live out our faith in daily life. But can you imagine how difficult it is to grasp these kingdom values within a culture that is opposed to Christianity?

Two years ago, the Thomas Reuters Foundation released the results of some research conducted on women’s rights in the Arab world. The report makes for some shock reading: sexual harassment running at rates as high as 99 percent; female genital mutilation as high as 91 percent in Egypt; marital rape not recognised in many of the Gulf countries, as well as Morocco; child marriage and human trafficking endemic in Yemen… Although the report outlines some very positive developments in a number of countries, it clearly shows that humanistic, educational campaigns by the UN and other NGOs have made very little progress in this area.

Across the Arab world, women need to hear the message of God’s love that transforms. Throughout his ministry, Jesus taught that kingdom values should transform what we know and understand. Many times, he said, You have heard it said, but I say…

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