Excerpt from "To All Peoples,"

by Robert Niklaus

The saga of Alliance mission in the Arab Middle East is best told in terms of resolve, not results.

The first C&MA missionaries entered Palestine in 1890, prepared to work among both Arabs and Jews. The results, by the mid-1980s, after almost continuous missionary work among Arab peoples from 1890 onward, show only a total of nineteen churches and 2,871 inclusive members in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Results are obviously not the primary story of Alliance missions in the region, though the presence of an Alliance church is of great significance.

Despite a long history of threats, imnprisonment and harassment, curses to their faces and behind their backs, campaigns of intimidation against would-be converts, C&MA missionaries still occupy a beachhead in areas closest to the heartland of Islam.

That is the story of the Alliance in the Middle East.

Almost all the congregations in the three Arab countries consist of believers with non-Muslim background. The consensus among some church groups is to avoid direct attempts to convert Muslims--which is forbidden by law--lest theensuing storm by the authnorities sweep away the limited freedom and tolerance they do have. There is no indication that this public stance of implacable Muslim resistence to the Gospel will change any time soon, but privately expressed interest is on the rise.


Why has the religion of Muhammed proven so hard to penetrate and its followers so hostile to Christ? Why, in fact, has Islam proven more successful than any other world religion in winning Christians to its own faith?

Some credit the advance of Islam to its generous use of the sword as a persuader. Others point to its simplicity, saying that it offers much and demands little. But such generalities donot adequately explain how a relatively new religion can now claim over 817 million adherents worldwide, including vast areas once staunchly Christian.

One strength of Islam has been its success in emphasizing its difference from other religions. Islam is the youngest and last major world religion, dating its genesis some six hundred years after Christianity. Yet instead of suffering from an inferiority complex, the followers of Muhammed claim that last is best.

Kenneth Cragg, a recognized authority on Islam in the Middle East, says, "The assurance that their faith was no innovation, but the essence of all true religion before God, gave Muslims a confidence over the older systems and precluded the inferiority that lateness might have otherwise occasioned."

Any prior claims or teachings that conflict with M Cragg illustrates: "They claimed Moses and Jesus in Islamic terms and rejected as distortions of their teaching many of the characteristic convictions within Judaism and Christianity. In this way the new faith was able to assert...a correction and displacement of them."


Nowhere is this clash of conviction more evident than in the relative roles of Muhammed and Christ. Dr. Samuel Swemer, one of history's greatest missionaries to Muslims, points out "Muhammed is always in the foreground. Jesus Christ, in spite of his lofty titles and the honor given him in the Koran, is in the background.

"There is not a single biography of Jesus Christ alone and unique, as a great prophet of God, to be found in the literature of Islam. Christ is grouped with the other prophets, with Lot, Alexander the Great, Ishmael, Moses, Abraham, Adam."

Dr. Swemer concludes, "Christ to them occupies no supreme place in heaven nor does he in history. He has been at once succeeded and superceded by Muhammed in this respect."

Islam's denial of Christ as the unique Son of God brings every other Muslim teaching into conflict with everything that is essential to Christian faith. This denial is as central to Islamic faith and teaching as its assertion is critical to the Gospel.

Nothing stirs Muslim opposition more vehemently thant he claim of Christ's deity, because it runs counter to Islam's most cherished belief: There is only one God, and his name is Allah.

Muhammed was a crusader against hundreds of local gods he encountered among his fellow Arabs. His followers consider their religion the ultimate expression of monotheism and its defense their supreme destiny in a world of many false gods.

"To associate Jesus Christ with God," says Cragg, "is to commit the supreme sin against the basic assertion of the Muslim Shahadah, or Creed, that there is no god except God."

Sheikh Abdul-Haqq some years ago expressed the depth of Islamic enmity toward the Christian belief concerning Christ. "For us in the world there are only believers and unbelivers," he wrote, "Love, charity, fraternity toward believers, contempt, disgust, hatred and war against unbelievers. Among unbelievers the most hateful and criminal are those who, while recognizing God, attribute to Him earthly relationships, give Him a son, a mother."

Another major clash of conviction between Muslims and Christians centers on their sacred books. Cragg writes that, according to Islam, "The Quran (Koran) is the infallible Book. All other true Scriptures agree with it. The Biblical Scriptures, as they are, do not agree. Therefore these are corrupted. But their corruption is offset by the Quranic embodiment of what they ought to be."

Muslims consider their low esteem of the Bible altogether reasonable. After all, the Quran was written by only one inspired man in just twenty-three years in two places, Mecca and Medina. The gospels, however were written over scores of years by four men scattered in different places.

They infer from this that the original gospel written by Christ was lost, so "several leaders set themselves to making up the deficiency with the result that they all differed and they are all wrong."

Some Muslims ecnourage reading the gospels, but dismiss accuracy of the biblical record. The Quran states formally concerning Christ: "They did not kill him, thy did not crucify him, it was made to appear so to them."

Muhammad categorically rejected the crucifixion, and later commentators explained that the likeness of Christ was put upon another, who was crucified in His place. And because there was no cross, neither could Christ die for all, make atonement for their sins, rise again for their justification and give eternal life to those w2ho believe in Him.

Coupling such dogmatic denials with fanatical belief in their own creed and with the sword of conquest, the armies of Islam swept out of the barren hinterland of Arabia centuries ago. Like a blinding sandstorm, they enveloped vast areas once considered Christian. Confirmed in the rightness of their cause by such conquests, the followers of Muhammed have never relaxed their hostility toward the Gospel and its believers.


This was the attitude encountered by Misses Lucy Dunn and Eliza J. Robertson when they entered the Holy Land in 1890. Both had studied in Dr. A.B. Simpson's training school and then had gone separately to Palestine. Once there, they joined forces and began talking about Christ to anyone who would listen--Jew, Muslim or traditional Christian.

Whether knowingly or not, the two women and others who came later followed the widening circles of witness indicated by the risen Lord in Acts 1:8. "You will be my witnesses," He commanded, "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Misses Dunn and Robertson established their home base in Jerusalem. Rev. and Mrs. George A. Murray moved southward to the fanatically Muslim town of Hebron in Judea. Though he was lame and his wife blind, they served well. When the Murrays left southern Palestine in 1907, their carriage was followed by people who wept and begged them to stay.

As the circle of witness widened, Miss Mary F. Maxwell headed northward toward Samaria and Galilee. Although she had come to Palestine with denominational backing, she was drawnn to the Alliance by Miss Dunn.

The circle spread even wider when Rev. and Mrs. Archibald Forder came to the Palestine C&MA Mission from an unaffiliated group. They set their sights on what could be considered "the ends of the earth"--the barren and hostile interior of Arabia, birthplace of Islam.

From December of 1900 to March of the following year, Forder traveled by animal and on foot for 1,400 miles, distributing gospel literature and preaching in Bedouin tents and Arab towns throughout north-central Arabia.

Though ill part of the time and in constant danger, he made one of the most remarkable and heroic missionary tours ever attempted in the homeland of Muhammed. His would be the first of six such forays by Alliance missionaries into Arabia.


During the early 1900s, Alliance missionaries concentrated their efforts within Palestine, while seeking to establish permanent work in neighboring Arab territories. World War I hampered but did not halt their work.

Rev. A. E. Thompson, longtime chairman of the Palestine C&MA Mission reported that "Ours was the only group that has been able to maintain a semblance of mission work throughout the entire war period, even though for a period of more than a year there had been no foreign missionary in residence."

The year 1920 represented something of a second wave as five new missionaries arrived to expand Alliance ministry into new areas. Their appearance coincided with a decision by the Church Missionary Society to cede all its responsibility in southern Jordan to the Alliance. The Palestine C&MA Mission agreed that same year to accept oversight of the schools and small groups of believers that Miss Ford had started in Syria.

Thus, by the 1920s, the Alliance worked in three fields under three different types of government: British mandate in Palestine, largely autonomous Jordan and French-ruled Syria.

Rev. and Mrs. W.F. Smalley tried to reopen the mission station in Karak, Jordan. It had been earlier founded by the Forders, then transferred to the Church Missionary Society, and finally ceded to the Alliance. Local officials, however, refused to allow the station to reopen.

Smalley remembers the Bedouin sheikh administrator of the area giving him a blunt warning: "If we were in Karak at the end of another night, they would know how to dispose of us."

He added that the Arab chieftain could assemble 10,000 armed and mounted warriors within a few hours. That same sheikh would late come to Smalley and ask that his son be registered in the mission school when the Karak mission was reopened.


With Karak closed for the time being, the Smalleys turned to the small town of Madaba, one of the few villages east of the Jordan River that had a significant Christian population. They were able to establish both a school and a mission.

An Arab Christian taught in the school, but he became so abusive and aggressive in his manner toward Muslims that both he and Smalley were evicted from the country. Mrs. Smalley was not included in the deportation.

When Smalley returned a short while later, a high-ranking official told him, "We got rid of you once. If a person takes a snake out from under his clothes, does he then allow the snake to crawl back again?"

Eventually, however, the government relented and allowed both Smalleys to continue their work--but not the unwise assistant.

Officials kept a close watch on the missionaries and any Arab Muslim who visited them often. On separate occasions the Smalleys became friends with a doctor, a bank manager and an army officer. All three showed an interest in the Gospel and all three were transferred to posts far from missionary contact.

Persistence and resolve finally paid off in 1929. A congregation of five Madaba believers, all from non-Muslim background, organized the first Alliance church in Jordan. The small school expanded and eventually included chidlren of some influential Muslim families.

The congregation in Madaba experienced frustrations common to other groups of believers throughout the area. Unable to afford their own chapel, they met in small rooms of small homes. This limited the number of attendees and kept the church from growing.

One missionary observed: "Members came early to secure a seat, and when townspeople arrived they had to stand on the balcony or porch, or go home again. Many would not come at all for they knew there would be no place for them. Others arranged with their families to alterate at the meetings so that more people might have a chance to hear the Gospel."

When the resident missionary was finally able to lay the foundation for a 150-seat chapel years later, the people asked why he was building such a small building.


An unusual young Palestinian, Albert Hashweh, came to Madaba in 1950 to pastor the church and teach in the mission school. Although only in his mid-thirties he had seen enough suffering to give him a maturity beyond his years.

Beersheva was his birthplace twice over.

Born there in 1912, he was born again in his hometown through the ministry of Alliance missionaries. He graduated from the C&MA Bible Training institute in Jerusalem and joined the police force in order to have a witness among the Arabs in the Sinai Desert.

The 1948 Arab-Israeli War that won the Jewish people a homeland deprived the Hasweh family of theirs. Force to flee the family homestead of four generations, he could have become embittered, like many thousands of other Palestinian refugees. God spared him and his family from that empty fate by leading him to the ministry at Madaba.

The mid-fifties were an unsettled time for the church as well as the region. The Palestine C&MA Mission was encouraging full autonomy for the Arab Lands churches, a move that included withdrawing subsidies from church and school programs.

Hashweh refused to join those who left the Alliance in search of continuing financial support. He determined to stay with the people who had led him to Christ and helped him surmount the tragic loss of his homeland.

God blessed his ministry, and in 1956 he was chosen president of the Jordanian Alliance national committee. He moved to the capital in 1958 as pastor of the Jebal Amman Church, the leading Alliance church in Jordan.

Hashweh's cousin also honored the Lord and was used of God in a remarkable way. Although blinded in early childhood, Jamil Hashweh completed his education in the Alliance school at Beersheva. He learned to type, play the violin, and translate theological books into Arabic. He also wrote many poems and hymns.

His impact extended well beyond the church. He produced the first Arabic Braille magazine in the Arab world, devised a universal Braille in Arabic, and managed the transcribing unit of Helen Keller House. For this and other achievements, King Hussein of Jordan honored him with a gold medal.

Jamil Hashweh responded: "This has reminded me of the crown of life which I shall soon receive from theLord when He appears as King of Kings and Lord of Lords."


Alliance missionaries had been wanting to establish a permanent post in Arabia since 1900, when Forder made his first scouting trip of 1,400 miles throughout the aid desert along Arabia's northern border with Jordan. The second expedition did not come until twenty-five years later.

Little had changed in the intervening years, especially the constant threat of danger and unforeseen difficulties.

At one point, the Ford vehicle carrying the three missionaries and their guides rounded one side of a hill while thirty Bedouin horsemen passed on the opposite side with orders to shoot the foreign intruders on sight. The men learned later that 2,000 camels had been stolen and the local Bedouin sheikh though they were the guilty ones returning on another raid.

Driving the Ford over desert terrain and caravan trails often resulted in mechanical problems. In addition to broken springs and engine failure, the men had to stop one hundred times to repair punctured tires.

Smalley and a missionary colleague, George Breaden, set out in November, 1927, on another scouting trip along the coastal area of Arabia to see if the local people would tolerate a mission in their part of the country.

Five days by camel into their trip, they were detained at a military post and became, in Smalley's words, "guests of the Arabian government." They were taken, under arrest and armed guard, by camel and boat to Jeddah, seaport for Mecca, Islam's most holy city.

Smalley summarized their experience: "We were arrested, guarded for thirty-seven days, carried 250 miles farther than we admitted we wanted to go, granted no trial and no explanations, and then ignominiously ejected from the country.

"The parting gesture of defiance to the missionaries, and to the Gospelw hich they represented, was written on our passports when they were returned to us. It read, 'It is not permitted for the bearer of this passport to ender the land of Kedjaz or Nejd Saudi Arabia.'"

News spread fast concerning the Arabian government's action. Some claim that the Muslim governments of the Middle Wast had a secret organization that circulated news of such happenings and distorted facts to inflame the masses against Christian missions.

Arrest and expulsion of the missionaries occurred about the same time an evangelism conference was being held on the Mount of Olives. Propagandists seized upon both events to inflame the Arab world against missionaries. Disturbances broke out in Palestine, Jordan and Syria following their arrest. One mission worker was severely beaten, a Danish mission was closed and crowds in several cities called for the explusion of all missionaries.

The episode also had political repercussions. Word of their arrest reached Washington and caused considerable concern over Arab-American relations. The Jordanian government promised the Arabian monarch it would prevent missionaries using its country to enter Arabia.

Smalley and a missionary colleague next planned to itinerate in southern Arabia, well away from the disputed area around Mecca, and then continue on to Persia on a survey trip. A series of cables between Jerusalem and New York ended with a final word from the Board of Managers: "Survey Persian Gulf only."

That ended further attempts to enter Arabia. Though deeply disappointed at the time, Smalley conceded later, "Looking back at it from the advanced knowledge of forty years' greater experience, one can only say that doubtless the Lord's will was carried out."

Although barred from Arabia, Messrs. Smalley and paul S. Allen did survey the southern coastline of Persia (now Iran). The Allens and the R.E. Bresslers later settled in Persia and for several years carried on a very successful ministry.


The year 1920 that signaled entry into Jordan also marked the beginning of Alliance work in Syria. But unlike the Jordanian mission, which began through pioneering, the Syrian ministry began by adoption.

After joining Miss Dunn and the Palestine C&MA Mission, Miss Mary T. Maxwell concentrated her efforts in the Syrian Plain of Hauran, east of the Sea of Galilee. Since the area did not form part of the Alliance responsibility under mission comity, she eventually formed her own mission, while maintaining closer ties to her former colleagues.

Miss Maxwell petitioned the Alliance in 1920 to take over her work, which consisted mainly of small groups of believers and small schools with local teachers funded entirely from her resources. After conferring with the established missions of the region, the C&MA accepted the Syrian part of Miss Maxswell's work.

Kharaba, site of the first Alliance mission, was one of the few Syrian Christian villages that survived the Muslim conquest centuries ago. The congregation consisted of several Greek Orthodox people, who realized that previously they had only been Christian by tradition and needed a personal faith in Christ. Ostracized and b erated by their own people, the new believers banded together to form a congregation.

Spreading out from Karaba, missionaires established a center in Dera'a among the Muslims, Eastern Orthodox and Druze (a highly secretive and syncretic Muslim scect in Syria, Lebanon and Israel.). Their first Muslim convert was a dentist, member of a prominent and influential Muslim family in Damascus.

The dentist testified openly of his faith in Christ and was baptized in a public meeting. Within weeks, he was poisoned and taken to Damascus in critical condition [this is a widespread, favorite tactic to deal with converts to Christianity from Islam, they are poisoned by some easily procured substance put in their food by relatives who can easily do it without anyone seeing or suspecting just who did it--and English missionary Lilias Trotter found that it was done frequently to converts who were doing well in her own ministry and mission in Algeria at the turn of the century; how can it have changed today, except we see more violence now, the converts being imprisoned, tortured, and then killed if they won't turn against their Savior and renounce Jesus?--Ed.]. When he later recovered and returned to his dental work in Dera'a, the missionaries noted a strange, distant manner about him.

"When I tried to talk to him about the Lord," reported one missionary, "he spoke in a passive, unemotional way,a nd said that his faith in Christ had given him joy and peace before, but the way was too hard and the price too great. He asked us to let him alone."

Opposition came not only from Muslims but also from Greek Orthodox clergy. A priest burst into a village meeting near Dera'a and angrily confronted the missionary, ordering him out of town. When ignored, he seized several villagers and tried to expel them from the service, but only succeeded in getting himself evicted.


The Syrian work taken on by the Alliance had internal tensions as well as external. The former policy had been for the mission to finance every aspect of the work--schools, teachers, church workers--a practice prevalent throughout Middle East missionary work. A farsighted attempt was made by the Alliance not to continue this policy in regard tot he Syrian believers.

Missionary Ralph Freed (whose son Paul later founded Trans World Radio) observed: "In these Arab lands it is an almost unheard-of-thing for a missionary society to attempt to work apart from mission-conducted and -paid schools, hospitals, or some form of material assistance, to win the people to Christ.

"We are determined that if any souls were to be won to Christ in Jebait or elsewhere, it must be done by the direct operation of the Spirit without any of these means."

Results elsewhere in the Middle East indicate that mission-financed institutions, no matter how humane and commendable, do not contribute significantly, either numerically or spiritually, to a vigorous national church.

An American medical missionary working in Israel estimated that he and his medical co-workers had treated about 180,000 Jewish and Arab patients over a fifteen-year period. "Yet of these thousands, he was not able to recall even one who, as a result, acknowledged Jesus Christ as Savior, although the Gospel had been faithfully presented to all of them."

[Did you read that last statement? Did it sink in? It is astounding, but irrefutable, that such worthy institutions alone are not going to further the church growth in the Muslim countries, there has to be another approach if salvations and church growth are the objects of missionary endeavor. I recall the culture of Christian missions in Bethlehem, which were old missions going back many years and several generations at least. I visited a home and orphanage for the blind Arabs, Arab children and young people and even mature women living in group homes attached to the main institution. Bethlehem has a number of such charitable Christian institutions--but has it furthered the church and the increase of salvations? You find an institutionalized, mission-like atmosphere in such places, that is very religious, but does it really go deeper and reach the heart of the people involved or does it just remain a kind of life style, Christian in name but not really evangelistic and life-transforming as can only be found through and in a a personal relationship with the Savior Jesus Christ. It would be interesting to find how these missions and institutions have weathered the Muslim PLO takeover of Bethlehem and the flight of Arab Christians from this city where they have lived for centuries. Though run by Christian Arabs in some cases, staffed by Christian Arabs, are they still in operation or have they too been forced to shut down or cut back drastically in their helping poor and disabled Arabs? I have only heard the Christians are hurting terribly in that city that once was prosperous and happy with Christians and Arabs living side by side without difficulties and oppression and persecution of Christians such as we see now.--Ed.]

Missionaries and local church workers spread out from Kharaba in the 1920s and 1930s to other towns across the broad Plain of Hauran. They penetrated the Druze Mountains, home of the fanatical, reclusive Muslim sect that viewed other branches of Islam with almost the same contempt and hostility it displayed toward Christianity [surprisingly, then, the Druze make very loyal citizens of Israel, and contribute good soldiers to the IDF! Perhaps the secular IDF enables them to contribute to Israel's defense, as they believe they should be loyal to the state where they reside and see no conflict between their Muslim Druze faith and Israeli citizenship and army service for their Druze youth. Too bad the other Muslims of the Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam do not share Druze beliefs in this respect! It would automatically erase the conflicts presently between Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Fatah and the other violently anti-Israel forces arrayed against Israel and denying its legitimacy as a sovereign, free, democratic Jewish state. You won't hear of the Druze doing this in Israel, however, as the mainstream liberal media present the whole Middle Eastern conflict as a black/white issue, which it certainly is not, as the Muslim Druze are a significant exception to the general rule.--Ed.]

Their [Druze] religion, a mixture of eastern religions brought into a pattern of belief about one thousand years ago, remains remarkably strong. The Gospel even entered the mountain stronghold of Aara, administrative center of the powerful Druze prince responsible for the mountain district. CAPITAL MOVE

The most significant advance in Syria came during 1944, when the Alliance was finally able to establish a resident ministry in Damascus, the capital.

[Damascus, the biblical city is here--buried mostly, but there is the Street called Straight here, still identifiable, they say. There are all the Biblical and Pauline associations here too--in a living city! This is an incredible city, to say the least, even though it is ruled by a Muslim regime of the notorious dynasty of Assads that is so dictatorial it has committed genocide against its own Syrian people, wiping out an entire city in order to maintain absolute control without dissent.--Ed.

Missionaries had long wanted to work among the people of this city with its special historical and political status. Although the capital of present-day Syria, Damascus is reportedly the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.

Missionaries moving to Damascus during the 1940s, however, were reminded on every hand that the city was now the Muslim capital of a Muslim nation. Trying to find property for their base of ministry turned into a nine-month ordeal. They finally found a small office on the second floor of an apartment house in the Muslim part of the city.

The struggling congregation began an era of growth and stability in 1948, when Rev. Ibrahim Oueis became its pastor. he had been serving the Arab Alliance Church in Jerusalem but was forced to leave the city during the Arab-Israel War. Numerous Arab Christian refugees who fled from Jerusalem to Damascus were drawn to the pastor, who had suffered along with them.

[I know that some people have had horrendous experiences with Syrians, but I had a nice experience I will always remember. I was in transit between Egypt and the US, and while in the airport detention (for not having enough money to enter) station, I met a fellow detainee, a Syrian college student held there because Syria was on the watch list for terrorist states by the U.S. and Britain. A Polish youth sat next to me and the Syrian, and somehow the conversation came to God and I said I knew God personally and prayed to him. The Polish Catholic declared you couldn't know God personally and pray to Him, so I said I could sing to the Lord and He would hear me. Would they like that? The Syrian said he would, so I sang a Gospel song, and afterwards he expressed thanks to me for singing it, which was more than the Polish Catholic fellow would do, as he left us alone from that time on. The Syrian youth was so nice to me he gave me the special Turkish delight he was carrying to his friends in Britain, and it was simply delicious! He also showed me the wonderfully carved wooden boxes the British inspectors had already jammed knives into, damaging the carvings on these expensive boxes, and he showed them to me with tears in his eyes since it was wrong what they had done to him [I suppose they didn't have the scanners they have today]. I had a book on Spurgeon with me, and showed him some pictures from it. But I had already witnessed with a song of love to the Lord Jesus. That was what I was there for, evidently, for we will not meet again in this life, though I pray I will see him in the next. Shortly afterwards, I was given a flight home I had paid for already and had a ticket for--it was like the Lord saying, okay, you passed my test by witnessing publicly for me and showing your love for me in a difficult circumstance, so I am taking you home, little brother! All the others had been there longer than I was there, but God literally pulled me out of there with his almighty hand, and I heard many had been there for weeks waiting for a decision on their status. Boy, was I glad to go, but I will never forget those experiences with all those fellows from Poland, Syria, Morocco, India, and elsewhere. Now if only I could pass the test here in my own country, amidst much easier circumstances, and witness publicly, I would be doing something!--Ed.].


Syria unintentionally influenced the founding of C&MA missionary work in Beirut, Lebanon, when on two occasions missionaries had to leave Syria.

First, the fall of France in World War II made French-dominated Syria untenable to American-born Alliance missionaries Rev. and Mrs. George W. Breaden. They moved to Beirut and started an international church among the large English-speaking community.

The Breadens continued their contacts with born-again Christians among the Druze in Syria. Later, when a severe drought forced many Druze to seek employment in Beirut, the Christians among them gravitated to the Arabic-speaking missionaries formerly in Damascus. Breaden eventually pastored one of the largest evangelical churches in Beirut, attended primarily by Syrian Christians.

When the Breadens went on furlough after the war, however, no one followed up on their work in Beirut,a nd both the international and Syrian congregations passed intot he care of other missions.

Syria again focused Alliance attention on Lebanon by showing its hostility to Americans around 1950 The regime forced all missions to leave the country. Some workers, like the Breadens, were given only twenty-hours.

Those who transferred their work to Beirut after the stressful hostility of Damascus must have considered the Lebanese capital almost a resort city. Almost equally divided between one million Muslims and one million Christians (mainly Maronites) for many years, Lebanon demonstrated that Muslims and Christians could get along with each other [just as Bethlehemites, both Muslims and Christians, demonstrated until lately] in an open, democratic society. [Since this book was published and this was written, the Muslims have gained dominance, and many thousands of Christians have fled, and the balance was upset irretrievably, as Lebanon is now a Muslim nation to all intents and purposes, though it still has a sizable nominal Christian minority; this has brought a huge influx of Syrian influence and also Hizbollah terrorists from Iran, making southern Lebanon into a staging platform for thousands of rockets used to fire on Israel.--Ed.]

Christian minorities all over the Middle East viewed Lebanon as their hope for more freedom and equality in their own Muslim-dominated nations. Prospering remarkably, like a sparkling oasis in an ugly desert of hatred and fear, Lebanon seemed like a dream too good to last--and it was. Its bright future proved nothing more than a shimmering mirage.

Excited hopes that Lebanon would prove more responsibe to the Gospel than Syria were quickly dashed on the rocks of the two centuries--old traditional relgions, Muslim and Christian.

"Some Protestants in the West have so casual an attitude with respect to denominational loyalty that they feel quite justified in changing affiliation at will," argues one observer of Middle East christianity.

"This is not the case in the traditional churches of Lebanon as elsewhere in the Middle East," he explains. "There one's church membership is integral to his or her idenity among those who Christian history dates back to the apostolic era, and whose struggle for survival as a Christian people is centuries old."

Partly as a result of this resistant attitude by Lebanese Christians as well as Muslims, denominational missionary work primarily took the form of institutional ministry. Nearly one-half of all school-age children--Christian and Muslim alike--have been educated in mission or church-related primary and secondary schools.

The world-famous American University in Beirut has Protestant roots, just as St. Joseph University in the city was founded under Roman Catholic auspices. Likewise many hospitals, clinics, welfare projects, orphanages and homes for the aged were expressions of missionary commitment.


Another disappointment soon to be shared by Alliance missionaries and all others who were wished Lebanon well was the breakdown of "confessional government.

Muslims and Christians had shared the powers of government for many years on the basis that the two populations were roughly equal in size. The president, for example, was traditionally a Maronite Christian, while the prime minister was a Sunni Muslim.

("Maronite" refers to the Syrian Christian Church, which dates back to the first century, and follows Eastern Orthodox rites. "Sunni" is the name given to the largest branch of Islam. It represents Muslims with a puritanical and fanatical allegiance to Muhammed and the Quram [Koran]. By contrast, Sh'ite Muslims revere revere Muhammed's son-in-law Ali; they believe the Quram is inadequate and in need of additional doctrines and traditions.)

As Middle East tensions polarized Christian and Muslim populations, many of the more educated and prosperous Christian families fled the country. At the same time, Muslim Palestinian refugees poured into Lebanon. The population ratio shifted to about sixty Muslims for every forty Christians.

As Muslims demanded a greater share of power [note how this happens, that Muslims take over a country, often by population increase first, then when the majority population becomes Muslim, a demand for dominate power, then with power eventually comes the imposition of Sharia law upon the whole population, Muslim and Christian!--Ed.], the confessional form of government turned from coalition to conflict. Neighboring states and world powers stepped in and took sides.

Lebanon began its decline from a model state to a burned-out shell of abandoned ideals and lost hope.

Lebanon's fall dragged down as well the dreams of others. "Christians in other countries have become less interested in working for freedom," comments one Lebanese church leader. "There is the feeling that they had better remain quiet and maintain the status quo...What happens in Lebanon will affect Christians and Muslim-Christian relations throughout the Middle East."


To say that history is the big story of the Alliance missions in the Arab Middle East does not mean these areas have neither current growth nor a promising future. As the Alliance in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon moves toward A.D. 2000, significant developments are taking place.

Churches of numerous denominations in Lebanon are struggling for survival, trying to hold fast what they had accomplished before the havor and ruin of civil war engulfed the nation.

The Karentina Alliance Church in Beirut, however, started during the civil war and grew stronger as the fighting swelled in intensity. Attendance grew from fifty to 400 members between 1975 and 1986. The church had to enlarge its facilities five times to accommodate the increasing attendance.

The latest renovation in 1985 doubled the sanctuary seating capacity. The church also purchased some adjacent buildings and organized a Bible school to train church workers.

Two major factors contributed to the church's growth: its pastor and its relief program.

Rev. Sami Dagher was well along in a hotel management career when the Lord called him first to be a son, and then a servant. He was copastor of the international church in Beirut for several years. Then in 1976, he started a church for his Lebanese countrymen in the Karentina sector of Beirut.

Since then he was kidnapped and shot at, he saw his home and car damaged by shell fire, and he has survived countless artillery barrages. his family as well was often under fire.

Knowing he was marked for kidnap or murder, Dagher still refused to abandon his homeland and ministry. "We are immortal till our work for Christ is completed," he believes.


[The folowing is not social gospel at work, in the following account. On the contrary, it is the means by which a true church took action in love to show the love and mercy of Christ in providing the physical and emotional resources refugees desperately needed--this was binding up their wounds, so that they could receive the Gospel of Christ. Social gospel provides physical resources and even emotional help, but no Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ, fearful that the needy person will be offended, or it may even be against the law in many societies today to speak of Jesus the Savior to the needy person who may be of a certain religion.--Ed.].

Dagher's hotel management training may have disciplined him to look after the needs of others. Whatever the reason, when fighting eruped in 1978 between Muslim and Christian militias (these are nominal Christians in the militia, it should be recognized, not genuine believes in the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ--Ed.], he viewd the long, pathetic lines of refugees and mobilized is church to have a relief ministry.

Although the sacking of his own hometown of Ramali occurred seven years later, it illustrates the kind of relief program the Karentina church developed as the war stumbled on.

The people in Ramali were awakened at midnight by the sound of approaching tanks and supporting infantry. Behind the tanks came columns of empty trucks to be filled with loot from village home, shops and fields. Within hours, the once-prosperous farmers and businessmen found themselves homeless and impoverished.

An Alliance missionary in nearby Nogura helped secure a small ship to take the refugees to Beirut. There they were met by Pastor Dagher.

"We noticed the sadness, the desperation, the lost hope in their eyes," he recalls. "Once they had everything and now nothing. Everyone was crying and it was a heartbreaking experience."

Financial assistance from Samaritan's Purse, TEAR Fund England and CAMA Services enabled the church to provide the Ramali refugees with basic food and household items. The church also gave them blankets, mattresses, furniture and clothing.

Then the church found apartments for twenty-four families and paid the rent in advance for two years. Five families crowded into the pastor's apartment until they could find housing of their own.

Out of that group in Dagher's home, six became Christians [see, here is the true spiritual fruit, this could not come out of strictly social gospel welfare--Ed.]. A total of forty-five refugees openly confessed their faith in Christ before the Karentina congregation.

By June of 1986, the church had helped about 1,000 families in this manner.

Aiding others while they themselves suffer has made the Karentina congregation strong in faith. During a Sunday of especially heavy fighting in 1987, Pastor Dagher raised his voice above the explosions and gunfire to shout a question to the congregation: "Are you prepared to go to heaven from here?"

They shouted back an affirmative answer. He turned to a visitor and exclaimed: "It's a great group of people. Marvelous!"


[This country is headed toward near extinction or even extinction. Syria is ruled by Moslem tyrants, who are so anti-Israel they cannot be deterred from committing national suicide, attacking Israel time and again at every opportunity. The Bible says Damascus will be destroyed, utterly, and that means today by a nuclear attack. But it will first launch an attack on Israel that is existential, meaning that Israel will have no choice but to reply with the nuclear deterrant to stop Syria from utterly wiping Israel off the face of the earth, Syria's ultimate aim. So sad for Syrians! They will suffer beyond comprehension due to the madness of their religion, Islam, and the megalomania of their Moslem rulers. Syria will become yet another nation that falls on the Stone of Israel, but the Stone turns to a mount in God's hands, a giant-slayer like David and his slingshot, and Syria will be ground to powder. The destruction of Syria, its capital annihilated, will happen, and probably soon, as it builds up to yet another all-out attack of extermination against Israel. Please refer to Exekiel 38.--Ed.]

The imposing Alliance church building on a main street in Damascus serves as the nerve center and heartbeat of the largest evangelical denomination in Syria. It also represents one of the largest and fastest-growing Alliance national churches in the Middle East.

A big sign identifies the building as the "Jesus the Light of the World Church." Since the Damascus Alliance church acts as a spiritual leader of all fourteen other organized C&MA churches in Syria--proud parent of many--the same inscription is seen over each church door.

Both the same and growth of the church in Syria owe much to Rev. Ibrahim Oueis. When pastoring the Damascus church and wondering what to name it, Oueis noticed that all the other churches carried names of saints like Saint Ananias, Saint Helena and Saint Barnabus.

"These titles suggest to people what these churches stood for," explains a pastor friend of Oueis. "He wanted the Alliance churches to be known for the preaching of Jesus Christ."

This attitude of exalting Christ and maintaining loyalty to the C&MA was typical of Pastor Oueis.

During the 1950s, the Syrian field was suffering the transition from mission support to autonomy and self-support. Several pastors and congregations transferred to high-subsidy missions rather than undergo the self-discipline of tithing and learn dependence on God rather than a mission paymaster.

The same problem developed in Palestine and Jordan as groups left the Alliance for the comfortable paternalism of subsidy-minded missions.

Not Pastor Oueis. He determined to trust God and continue witht he mission that had brought to him the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Responding to their pastor's faith, the Damascus church took on his total support.

Revival came tot he Damascus church around 1958. Through the pastor's faithful biblical preaching, the congregation became more concerned about steweardship and outreach. Evangelistic services, Sunday school, even congregational singing experienced a new vitality.

Muslim neighbors who had previously tolerated a Christian church in their apartment building now became hostile toward the rejuvenated believers. A move to better and larger facilities became necessary for several reasons.

A prosperous merchant in the congregation showed the way to accomplish this by deciding to give his full tithe to the church. Others followed his example, and soon almost the entire church was tithing. They soon had $10,000 in a building fund and eventually saved twice that amount.

With a matching grant of $20,000 from Alliance churches in North America, they purchased property and gradually built what would become an impressive complex with a sanctuary accommodating 500 people, a Sunday school unit for over 200 students, and three apartments for pastoral staff.

The church's spiritual vitality and strategic location attracted people who came from all over syria to study in the capital. On a given Sunday, some 70 percent of the congregation would not be city residents.

The high percentage of out-of-towners proved an asset, not a liability. One of the pastors explains: "While in the church, these people are nurtured in Christ and established in the faith. When they return to their villages they start Bible studies. As these studies grow, they then aask if they can become Alliance churches." At least three village churches started in this manner by 1986. The Damascus congregatin started its own daughter church during the 1980s by choosing Aleppo, the second largest and most important city of the northern region [as an aside, I suspect that this city might become the capital of a post-Damascus Syria, after Damascus is utterly destroyed by Israel in response to a coming all-all war of extermination launched by Syria and its allies, which could happen soon, as all the forces of attack are in place, with only Syria lacking the nuclear bomb, which it may have when Iran's bomb comes on-line in the near future, perhaps 3 years from now. Will the Christians in Syria be caught in the nuclear bombing of Damascus? There is no reason to think that will happen, as God has warned His people, repeatedly, well in advance of enemy attacks, as he did with the Jews and Christians of Jerusalem prior to 70 A.D. when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans under Titus. He has done the same since then, warning the Armenian Christians of the coming Jehad by Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey which wiped out over a million Armenians who did not flee when they had a chance to do so. I happened to meet a 100-year-old Armenian saint, a sweet old lady, in Jericho, and I don't doubt she was one of the refugees from the Turkish genocide in Armenia in eastern Turkey. She could sing gospel songs, and when I brought her an ice cream cone from a street vender, it happened to be her birthday, and she celebrated by joyful singing of her gospel songs. Altough she couldn't speak English, or maybe knew only a few words of English from gospel songs, I could make out what songs they were, and they were the same ones I had sung when a child.

Such a little thing, the gift of an ice cream cone that wasn't much more than frozen ice with a little milk thrown in, but it was a special treat for her, poor as she must have been after losing everything, including her family no doubt, in her lost homeland in Armenia/Turkey.--Ed.

The Aleppo congregation grew to 150 persons worshiping on Sundays, enabling the church to rent a 200-seat hall. The pastor, however, estimated that the hall would only be adequate for a few years.

This kind of indigenous church growth, free from outside help, has stirred considerable opposition from traditional religions. But as long as the church does not try to convert Moslems, the government seems uninclined to interfere.

While official tolerance continues, the Alliance church in Syria will openly continue its remarkable growth in the midst of one of the world's most zealous Muslim populations.


When a small group of Arab Christians gathered on New Year's Eve in a suburb of Amman for their first Bible study, theyw ere intent on making history.

The year was 1982, and the group's goal was to establish an organized church within five years. They knew that such an achievement was foreign to the norm; the last C&MA church in Jordan had been opened in 1951. But the organizers lived in West Amman, a new suburb only ten years old and filled with middle-and-upper-lcass business and professional people--the kind of individuals used to doing new things and getting what they wanted.

Five years later, on New Year's Eve of 1987, the Bible study had grown to thirty people and was meeting in a well-situated apartment that could accommodate 150. Taking the name of Sixth Circle Alliance Church, the congregation initiated a full schedule of services.

Thus the small group of believers kept faith with their vision and Jordan had it sfirst new Alliance church in thirty-five years. Much of the credit for helping the new church get started belongs to the Jebal Amman Church and pastor, Rev. Albert Hashweh, in the capital.

Although the central church of the Alliance in Jordan, the congregation's place of worship was the smallest of all three churches in Jordan. Their apartment meeting place could only hold part of the 150-member congregation at one time. The people had to divide into three groups so that everyone could worship in the apartment sanctuary.

When the Jebal Amman Church helped the new congregation in West Amman get started by providing funds and some key members, it received in return a valuable contibution from the daughter church: the realization that church planting does indeed work!

Evangelism and church planting are possibilities precious and rare in most Arab states. Yet the exercise of religious freedom is possible in Jordan, even if by an unwritten law that freedom may be directed only toward "the minority population," i.e., Arabs with a non-Muslim background.

Given the successful establishing of the Sixth Circle Church, and awakened interest in church planting by the Jebal Amman congregation, it is likely Jordan will not have to wait another thirty-five years before seeing another new Alliance church.


Fortress Islam has for centuries withstood almsot every attempt to penetrate its Middle East defenses and lead its masses to freedom in Christ. In recent years, sounds of awakening have come from within the walls,a nd it appears that Muhammed's faithful are once again on the move.

The amasses riches of oil-producing Arab states did not spark this resurgence of Islam in the region. Neither did the shattered myth in Lebanon of Israeli military invincibility or the helplessness of Western powers before taunting hostage-takers.

Even Iran with its holy war fanaticism cannot claim credit for the awakened movement. "The Iranian revolution may have been a catalyst," editorializes The Economist of London, "but it does not sound like a sufficient explanation. One which many people offer depends on the common need among young people for some sort of ideology or goal."

Arab naetionalism in the 1960s failed its generation. Capitalism in the 1970s was a foreign ideology, as was Communism. Materialism inthe 1980s became a goal won and discarded [I would question this generality, however, as most Moslem people are wretchedly poor while their rulers are fabulously rich with oil money and manipulated economies kick-backing money to them with every business transaction, the way that Hosni Mub arak of Egypt made himself a billionaire in his poverity-stricken nation. Rather, I think the Moslem masses are sick to death of their poverty and their hopeless economic prospects and want a fair share of the pie, especially the oil revenues if they happen to be in oil-rich state. I further believe these downtrodden Moslem masses have yet to experience the empty meaning and purposeless of the materialistic society that dominates the West; yes, they are moving by the millions to the West and getting ahead, their objective in leaving their homelands, but they haven't yet become disillusioned with materialism, since it is so lately gained. Once they are at the level of their hosts, well, then they may reject the whole materialistic and democratic society, as there are signs they are already doing, when you see jehadists being recruited among the professional classes of Moslem immigrants in Britain and other affluent Western nations. That is what mystified the British so much after the subway bombings in London, when they found out that the jehadists were affluent British citizens who were Moslem immigrants; the British couldn't understand why they would rise up and attack the very society that gave them so many advantages to get ahead and had rewarded them so handsomely! The rationalist, fair-thinking, diversity-valuing, liberal British simply could not understand that evil is even worse, when religious; it defies all logic and rationality and common sense; it is sheer fanatical evil, such as Satan the original jehadist evinces in everything he does.--Ed.]

Christians should not expct a massive breach in Islam's rejection of the Gospel in the Middle East [this is clearly outdated, since the outbreak of Chinese missionaries from the underground house church movements in China coupled with Christian channels on satellite television; in fact, we seen more Moslems turning to Christ, responding to personal visits of Jesus in their dreams as well, that there are now far more Moslems converting to Christian faith than Islam is winning by its own evangelistic efforts and bribery and massive mosque building programs throughout the world; if not for sheer popuplation increase, Islam would be finished as a global religion, for that is the only thing keeping Islam as large as it is and increasing fast in Western nations where the Gospel is hardly on the charts any more, thanks to secularist/humanist repression of Christianity--Ed.]

To the contrary, they can anticipate a more militant resistance, while at the same time Muslim emissaries in greater numbers will seek to turn Christians to Muhammed's Allah. {This is not working any longer now in the 21st century, as we already said, to stem the Christian tide sweeping the underdeveloped world, including the Middle East; the militancy is intimidating, of course, but it is turning off countless Moslems, not just shocked and terrified Westerners, for Moslems see then what a brutal religion they have in the terrible attacks being made on innocent people of every age by jehadists, and it sickens them; this we know from even the son of a founder of Hamas who is now a Christian!--Ed.].

L But the Arab populations of the Middle East, by their great numbers and spiritual needs, represent such suffering and lostness that no opposition dare keep; the servants of Jesus Christ from reaching out to them with truth and love.

That is why The Christian and Missionary Alliance measures its commitment to the Arab Middle East not in terms of results, but of resolve.

This ends this section; please go the next as it comes on-line soon.

In a tour of Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, I got to meet some Jordanian Christians and one Egyptian Christian, a Bible School director who was then in Jordan. Even then, back in the early 1980s, there was on-going persecution going on against Christians in Jordan. Can it be any different now, with the terrorist groups operating so freely? Surely, these Moslem lands are grim-walled Narnia-like fortresses, but God is still penetrating them with the Gospel, using such brave Christian witnesses as these I met, and also the means of Christian programming on Arabic speaking Christian channels via Trinity Broadcast Network and such radio broadcast ministries as Leading the Way founded by Dr. Michael Youssef in Atlanta, Georgia.

Persecuted Jordanian Christian in Amman, Jordan

Cairo Bible School Director in Amman, Jordan

End-Note: The above account shows how very difficult (though certainly not impossible, if persistence is exercised) it has been to bring the Gospel to the region beyond the Jordan River. But the story doesn't end there, as you will find out, if you continue reading.

The following poem-story tells about two Middle Eastern women who formed a strange but wonderful bond and went on a perilous journey whose outcome they could not have imagined. One woman was Jewish (the old mother and widow, Naomi), and the other was younger, the Moabitess Ruth. They could not have been more different in background and religion and culture. Yet their destinies were interwined by Providence in such a way that the golden Messianic thread was woven into their lives, which ultimately resulted in the Messiah, Jesus, himself! Moab was the heathen kingdom and people who inhabited the country southeast of the Jordan (the region that is now part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan). This is the country where the missionaries spoken of in the above account gave their lives to bring Christ to the people living in darkness, the Muslim Arabs. All this about Naomi and Ruth came about over a thousand years before Christ, and two thousand years later here we are--facing quite the same spiritual darkness in that very same region! Is there something in the story from the Bible from the book of Ruth that can speak to the situation today? Ancient Moab, after all, was just as set in paganism, the religion centered on the idol of Chemosh, as the Muslims today of Jordan are set in Islam, with Mohammed as their prophet and Allah as their god (who is not the God of the Bible, but the god of the Koran, the Muslim holy scriptures). There is something you might learn from Ruth and Naomi's experience. Never underestimate God's mercy and faithfulness and miracle-working, as Naomi did! She saw herself as hopeless, beyond any real help or recovery, but how wrong she was! She had not taken an Almighty God into her reckoning. We see now, by the results, that God turned her Moabite daughter-in-law's heart toward her hapless mother-in-law Naomi, or used the love that was there for Naomi, and she became the very agency by which God brought the greatest recovery and restoration of Naomi and her husband's lineage that could be. It was actually beyond all imagining, it was so wonderful. The very person who was outside the reach of grace, seemingly, became the means by which God brought amazing grace to Naomi and her blood line and Ruth's as well, combining them in the line that led to King David and later to the Messiah. That is the kind of God that God is. He can do the impossible, and even the unimaginable. Surely, he is doing the same today, regarding Jordan and its people. He is using the Internet and the satellite television dishes and all kind of other marvels of communication to bring the Gospel into Fortress Islam in Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Gaza, the Left Bank, Egypt, and also Israel. The Gospel cannot be shut out, as long as these technologies exist and are available to the masses of people. Grace is now reaching out, flooding out to the captives of Islam, liberating them by the thousands across the Middle East. Israelis too are coming to Christ via these same means. The God of Naomi and Ruth is just as active today, and producing the same unimaginable results! Isn't that encouraging? It is a fact: the Gospel is flooding out over the whole Middle East and cannot be stopped. And if not for Naomi"s daughter-in-law, would it have ever happened? She was one of the main causes of it, if you trace what is happening now back to loving, faithful Ruth.

In this poem-story based on the Bible story, an Arab man of integrity is given a role as well.

"Ruth, the Vine," by Eben

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