The Extinction of Christianity in the Middle East?
There has been a dramatic decline in the number of Christians in the Middle East and they face some difficult dilemmas. At the time of the Islamic Conquests in the 7th century, a few thousand Muslim Arabs were ruling over a population in which the majority were Christians.
Since 1900 the Christian population of the region has gone from 14% (around 7 million) to 5% (around 25 million) in 2015…
The Zwemer Center can be traced back to “the Muslim Research Institute” of the US Center for World Mission, Pasadena, CA in September 1977. It was founded to undertake the concentrated research needed to finally open the Muslim world to the Gospel.
The following year, a “Muslim Evangelization” conference in 1978 was held at Colorado Springs, that co-opted the Board of the Muslim Research Institute. It added several members to it and commissioned them to develop an institute to serve the missionary community. The community they had in mind was yet a fledgling community of missionaries to Muslims. The Institute was to undertake much-needed research to discover who our Muslim neighbors (local and global) are, what they believe and practice, and then explore and experiment with new initiatives to present them with the Gospel.
Reaching back into history to find a suitable name, the Board chose the name of Samuel Zwemer. He was the greatest missionary America had ever sent to the Muslim world and earned the title “Apostle to Islam.” Zwemer lived and traveled in North Africa and the Middle East, mobilized students for missions, founded and edited the academic journal “Moslem World,” taught at Princeton Theological Seminary, and wrote about 50 books about Muslims and the religion of Islam. He also wrote tracts in Arabic for evangelistic purposes.
A Christian Response to Shifting Alliances in the Middle East
So as political alliances shift, form and reform, our ultimate allegiance must be to the messiah of peace and his peaceable Kingdom. To stand firm upon the rock of our crucified king amidst the shifting tides of regional politics – to hear his words and put them into practice in our lives and communities – is to eschew the mobilizing rhetoric of whichever country, faction, axis or alliance with which we might otherwise most naturally resonate. To believe at this point that Saudi Arabia is an ally in a new war on terror is…