Saudi Arabia – is God at work?

Saudi Arabia is known as the heart of Islam. It is the place where Islam began and home to the Kaaba, or house of Allah, in Mecca. This is the place to which every Muslim is required, where financially possible, to make their pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. Known as Hajj, this journey is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Saudis are proud of their heritage. Religious authorities work hard to keep Islam pure by enforcing Sharia law, and other rules are added to ensure that people keep virtue. Women are required to wear the abaya (a long black overcoat) and hijab (headscarf); they are also encouraged to wear the niqab (face veil). These clothes are meant to protect them from lustful men. The prohibition against women driving is also to keep them pure, as they can’t go anywhere without a man driving them.

Many westerners view these rules as oppression of women, but the majority of Saudi women see them as evidence that their men care for them and want to protect them.

For many years the Saudi government has tried to keep what they see as wicked influences of the world out of their country. But despite their attempts to censor websites, ban satellite television and impose a variety of other controls, Saudis are now seen everywhere browsing on their mobile phones, watching satellite television and traveling the world. This recent news article states that Saudis spend one third of their monthly income on mobile phone and internet use. Google statistics indicate that Saudis watch three times as much YouTube as their American counterparts. The majority of enquiries and comments on our Arabic language website internet and Facebook sites over the past six months have come from Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the Saudi government spends thousands of dollars in scholarships, sending their young people to study in North America, Australia and Europe. Despite the government’s regulations and controls, the world is getting into Saudi Arabia!

Saudis are taught from a very young age that Islam is the only true religion and that the Christian Bible is corrupt. Anyone who questions these basic teachings faces harassment and harsh penalties from their family and acquaintances. Sometimes it results in their death. You can imagine, therefore, how difficult it is for them to change their mind about these things or even to express an opinion on the subject.

But regardless of the penalties, Saudis are responding to Christian media. This month our video of a Saudi man’s testimony has continued to generate a large number of comments and inquiries. There are several known local believers and many of them came to faith at least partly through Christian media. Since Sharia law includes the death penalty for leaving Islam, local believers must use extreme caution in telling others about their new faith. Many attempt to leave Saudi Arabia to avoid detection.

Saudi believers who are in country most often prefer to be discipled through the internet. They don’t trust Arabs and do not want to meet with them face to face. Through our online ministry website, they can secretly download a Bible, enter a chatroom or do a discipleship course. We are witnesses to the amazing impact that media has in touching the hearts of the people of Saudi Arabia.

Our prayer is that God will touch the hearts of relatives and friends of these Saudi believers so that they too will believe, and that the Christian church will be birthed in Saudi Arabia.

Come and help…

You may think that it is not possible for foreigners to live in Saudi, or at least, that if they do, everything must be forbidden. But I am happy to say that I have lived here for ten years with my husband and children and I love it! Yes, I have to wear the abaya and cover my hair, but by doing so, I receive less unwanted attention from men. Because there is not a lot of crime in Saudi Arabia, I feel very safe. Of course I must avoid talking to men or drawing attention to myself, and as a woman, it’s not wise for me to go places alone. I realize that this can be difficult for some personalities. But by God’s amazing grace, it is certainly possible.

In Saudi Arabian culture, there is a clear division between male and female. We do not mingle or develop relationships with the opposite sex. Thus, women must reach women with the gospel. Almost all of the Saudi women I meet are friendly and it is easy to take the initiative to greet them or speak to them. They are very hospitable. Their whole lives are built around religion, so talking about it comes naturally. Often they will ask, ‘Why aren’t you a Muslim?’ which gives me an open door to answer and share my faith.

There are various opportunities for women, even for single women, to work in Saudi. If you have a master’s degree along with a few years of teaching experience, you can often find a position teaching English. There is always a need for specialist nurses, and sometimes there are openings for doctors, although at times the government tries to clamp down on hiring foreigners. But God can make a way! I would suggest that two single ladies apply together if at all possible. A single lady on her own is often looked upon as being an immoral person, but having a friend come along can make it much more workable. As a single, you can expect to be asked lots of questions about why you are not married and why you came to Saudi – but that doesn’t mean it is not possible to come!

Perhaps this video on Pioneers core values will resonate with you. Pioneers/Arab World Ministries has offices throughout the world. Our UK office may be contacted at Pioneers UK. In the United States, inquire here.

Yes, God is at work in Saudi Arabia. Would you prayerfully consider if God is calling you?