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.
Jeddah is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia, both in geographical size and in population. With almost 4.5 million people, it is the largest port and city on the Red Sea.
Jeddah is also the main entry point for people coming on Hajj and Umrah (religious pilgrimages). Because of its proximity to the two holiest cities in Islam, Mecca and Medina, it has an extremely diverse cultural heritage. Many of its inhabitants originally come from other nations and have either grown up or lived here most of their lives.
Within Saudi, Jeddah is often referred to as the most liberal city, but by international standards, it is still very conservative.
Population: 4.5 million
Religion: Islam is the only officially recognised religion. Public expression of any faith other than Islam is severely restricted and non-Muslim places of worship are not allowed. Expatriates (more than 30 per cent of the population) come from a variety of faiths, including Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.
Ethnic groups: Of those who were born in Saudi Arabia, 90 per cent are Arab and about 10 per cent are of African or Asian ethnicity.
Geographical size: 651 sq miles (1,651 sq kilometres)
Location: West coast, on Red Sea
Key historical events: Settled in 522 BC by a Yemeni tribe. Made into a port in 647 AD. Became part of the Ayyubid Empire in 1177. Besieged by Ottomans in 1517. Besieged by Portugese in 1541. Made capital of the Hashmite Kingdom of Hejaz in 1924. Taken by the Sauds in 1925. International Islamic News agency established in 1972. King Fahd Fountain (world’s tallest fountain) opened in 1985.
People are trying to find meaning to their lives, often through money and possessions, but also through self-help books and videos, astrology and other New Age practices.
Young people are struggling to find jobs, even after studying abroad, and they long to have more freedom.
Many people have lived in Saudi all of their lives. Some are the children or grandchildren of immigrants who made Saudi their home many decades ago. Yet, they are not considered citizens of Saudi Arabia. As the government seeks to increase the number of Saudis working in many professions, non-citizens face growing challenges.
Despite the breakthrough in being allowed to drive, women continue to live with restrictions on their movements, and are expected to please their husbands and produce many children.
Family and friends can exert a lot of pressure and make it hard for seekers to have the time and space to search for the truth and communicate with others. There is real fear of what could happen to them and the people they love if their interest in Christianity were to be discovered.
Finding people who are genuinely interested in the gospel and establishing deep relationships is often hindered by language barriers. Discipling local believers and keeping them on track is made more difficult by not having a Christian community. And, not surprisingly, fear causes team members to hold back in outreach, and prevents local believers from sharing with family and friends.
Team members struggle to balance work, family life, outreach, language learning and personal fellowship.
- For believers and seekers who are currently being engaged by teams in this city. Ask that the spirit of fear would be overcome and that there would be an increasing hunger for the truth.
- That local believers would have a deep hunger for the Bible, and would regularly read and listen to God’s Word.
- That local believers would be salt and light in their families and communities.
- For those working as God’s ambassadors in Jeddah. May they be bold and wise, and may their faithfulness bring God glory and honour.
- For endurance and perseverance, both for those who have come to minister in this city, and for those who were born here and have chosen to follow Christ.
- That those who pass through Jeddah on their way to and from Hajj and Umrah would leave dissatisfied, hungering for something real.
One last thing…
‘The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.’ (Revelation 22:17 ESV)
Perhaps it is not insignificant that Jeddah is called the ‘Bride of the Red Sea’. As the largest Red Sea port and a commercial hub, it is an important city for Saudi, receiving millions of passing visitors each year.
Pray that Jeddah would also be known as a place where people come to Jesus. It seems impossible in a country that is steeped in Islam, in a city that welcomes millions of Muslim pilgrims each year, but the impossible is God’s speciality.
May God do something wonderful in and through the lives of the inhabitants of this city. May many drink the water of life without price.
Thank you for praying with us
Next month we pray for Beirut, capital city of Lebanon.