A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

praising God in the Middle East

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 9, 2007

I subscribe to a daily Bible verse, reading from the Bible, and “living lectionary” devotional email service offered free from the American Bible Society. (I keep looking for something similar with daily ayas and suras from the Qur’an, but – aside from an organization in Britain that charges for the emails – have found nothing.)

Ordinarily, I must confess, I read the Bible verse most attentively (its short), the reading with a rapidly decreasing attentiveness (after the first paragraph my thoughts wander), and the living lectionary gets a mere eyeballing.

This week’s lectionary had a more “local” flavor, though:

This week we remember to pray for the work of the Bible Societies in:

Gulf States (Mideast) –

With thanks to God for the Year of the Family 2006 campaign which emphasized the importance of the Christian family in today’s world, and with thanks to God that three new Bible outlets were inaugurated in 2005 and 2006, providing better facilities and access to the Scriptures, and with prayers for the development of Bible Society work in Qatar and for the Arabic Scripture program;

Iraq –

With prayers for peace in that nation and for the Bible Society team, with thanks to God for the miraculous work in difficult circumstances and for the steady growth in demand for Scriptures, and with prayers for the Kurdistan region, for Bible work there and for the opening of a new Bible Society branch in Erbil, and with prayers for the new shop in Mosul operated in collaboration with the sisters of the Chaldean Catholic order;

Syria –

With thanks to God for the freedom to distribute God’s Word and for the joy expressed by those who receive it, and with prayers for the completion of the new Christian Resource Center in Damascus which will contain Christian literature and multimedia materials.

I am very curious to know under what auspices the ABS operates in Qatar; certainly it is not allowed to proselytize. I know (from having attended services there, with my aunt and uncle!) that churches are allowed to operate there, and understood (also from same) that a new “church souk” (my totally un-official name for it) was being erected to house all the expatriate churches. How far along, and how fully realized, that project is now though I do not know.

I am also quite delighted to see the mention of Syria, as I am still stewing over Joseph Farah’s characterization of Syrian Christians as living lives of dhimmi oppression. His views came to the fore this fall in the columns he wrote criticizing Pastor Rick Warren for his visit to Syria. In them he described Syrian Christians’ lives as follows:

The only way Christians get along with Muslims in an officially Muslim country is by accepting the role in Islam known as “dhimmi.” Think of the dhimmi life as religious apartheid. It’s a good analogy. Christians are not free to evangelize Muslims. In a civil dispute between a Muslim and a Christian, the Christian’s word is worth less than nothing.

Rick Warren demonstrates his complete ignorance of the subtle repression Christians face in the role of dhimmi.

(Full article available here.)

As an American accustomed to the rule of civil law, I would say that my Syrian Christian friends are oppressed by the antiquated religious laws of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which govern “personal status” issues (marriage, divorce, custody of children, etc.). They are certainly not oppressed by the Syrian government – or, at least, no more oppressed than their fellow citizens.


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