In This City is a challenge to journey with us in prayer for 12 key cities in 2019. We ask you to commit to praying for fruit that will ripen and bear the seeds for mature, vibrant and multiplying churches across the Arab world. Find out more in this article from the leader of Pioneers’ Middle East Region.
Welcome to Al Ain, the city of seven oases! Al Ain is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited settlements and a UNESCO World heritage site. It’s a cultural ‘feast’.
Sitting in the middle of a desert, the greenery of date plantations and well-watered parks have earned Al Ain its nickname, ‘The Garden City of the Gulf’. Al Ain receives most of its water either from underground wells or desalination plants, which pump water in from the coast. We pray that more people in Al Ain will come to accept the true and living water that only Christ can give!
About Al Ain
Population: 760,000, 30 per cent Emirati, 70 per cent expat (mainly Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Afghani)
Religion: All Emiratis follow Sunni Islam and the majority of expats are Muslim. Some expats are Christian, others are Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, etc.
Geographical size: 5,800 sq miles (15,100 sq kilometres)
Location: Eastern border of UAE, in Emirate of Abu Dhabi
Key historical events: Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, spent much of his life in the city. His home is now a museum.
Materialism consumes many, stifling their need for God. They desire to conform to an affluent lifestyle, while trying to hold onto the traditions of their people, but these are not always compatible. While violent fundamentalist Islam continues to gain the world’s attention, the country as a whole seeks to appear tolerant while striving to advance their own Islamic faith.
Those who seek the truth do so from within a culture that is bound by honour and shame. There is a constant need to conform, so the fear of shame upon themselves, their family and their tribe is great. They also fear the punishment of a tribal leader. Conversion to Christianity is illegal and can have serious consequences.
Team members are always challenged by hectic work schedules, which they try to balance with meeting locals.
The team desires to proclaim the truth, disciple and gather believers together. They want to meet and invest their time in those who already have an interest in the gospel. There are very few known local believers in Al Ain, so the focus is mainly on sowing seeds by sharing with friends. They are constantly looking out for new contacts, but finding locals who have an interest in what they have to say is challenging. Those who do have local contacts are searching for opportunities to share in a meaningful way.
- God will give the team greater faith for all that he has in store.
- More spiritual conversations will take place with locals.
- God will guide the team to those in whom he has already begun to work.
- Local media contacts will be found and linked up with team members.
- Locals will become more receptive to spending time with non-Emiratis. (They tend to keep themselves separate because they don’t trust ‘outsiders’ and want to maintain their identity. This makes building friendships hard work.)
- The people of Al Ain will come to see how spiritually needy they are.
- There will be more fear of the Lord and less fear of man.
One last thing…
Our colleagues write:
‘Perfume is a hallmark of Arab hospitality. Perhaps because their ancestors transported frankincense and oud across the desert, the strong scents of Arab culture permeate homes, malls, weddings and funerals. When one goes to a wedding or visits a home, the host will often bring out several bottles of rich perfume for you to layer onto your clothes and hair. When you leave, you are definitely carrying home the scent of your host!
‘May we, as bearers of the aroma of Christ, permeate this land of fragrance with the knowledge of Him!’
‘But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing’. ( 2 Corinthians 2:14,15)
Thank you for praying with us
Next month we pray for Tunis, capital city of Tunisia.