Thursday, September 28, 2017

Pray for Jordan: Young People Are Hungry for God's Word

It’s the Islamic prayer time. While the Muslim call to prayer is being broadcasted from minarets all over Jordan’s capital, Hannah* speaks in a determined voice about an even stronger call: the call of God to follow Him. In this country where Muslims make up 98% of the population, this is not an obvious choice, even when you are born into a Catholic Christian family like Hannah was. “I grew up in a traditional Christian family,” she shares. “Though I knew who Jesus Christ was, I didn’t know Him personally. When I visited a Christian youth camp when I was 17, and we talked about our Christian identities, I was shocked. I realized that I was only a Christian on my birth certificate and ID card. It meant very little for my everyday life.”

Sadly enough, this is not uncommon for youth growing up in the small Christian community in Jordan. About 170,000 Christians remaining in Jordan, and their numbers are gradually declining mainly due to migration. Christianity in Jordan has strong historical roots, dating back all the way back to the first Christians of Pentecost. However, not all Jordanians belonging to one of the Christian tribes are actively committed to God and His church. In Hannah’s case, her parents sometimes went to church, but faith was not talked about. Her parents did, however, send her to a Catholic school. But when the preacher at the Church youth camp started talking about God’s love, this was a different and new message for her and things began to change. “I immediately experienced a showering of God’s love. After I prayed for salvation, my whole world turned upside-down. Before that, as a teenager, I had been struggling with a lack of self-worth; I thought I was untalented, not worth anything and that my life was useless.”

Her experience at the Christian youth gathering marked the end of this downward spiral that Hannah was in. “Suddenly, I knew, there is a reason why I live on this planet. Suddenly, my eyes were opened to God’s reality. He has a plan for me and wants me to grow and reach out to others.” She felt spiritually hungry. “I wanted to eat more of God’s Word and feel more of Him every day.” She started to attend biweekly Bible study meetings and volunteered in her church as a children’s worker. “I felt I was being used by God.”

When attending the church services, suddenly things started to make sense to her. “Before, I was often bored in the church, I didn’t care about the liturgy at all. But after this experience, I listened to the sermons better and I grew to appreciate them. The thing is, now, when the priest starts sharing, I know what he is talking about!” One thing that was immediately clear for Hannah is that she wanted to stay a member of the church. “This is the church God called me to be in. I have people here I trust and Christians I can pray with. This is my community and I’m not leaving it. But I will try to open more eyes here to the real character of God.”

Not everybody was excited about Hannah’s newfound love for God and the Bible. Hannah puts it like this: “To serve people can be a huge experiment.” At first, the priest in her church was reluctant to the weekly Bible study meetings Hannah attended. “But now he sees the fruits of it, he is asking me more and more about it.” Her family was an even bigger obstacle. Wary of the impact of the Bible study groups and youth camps on their daughter’s life, Hannah’s parents made her stop attending them at first. “That was a very hard time. I prayed a lot. I don’t know how, but after a while, things became easier. They saw the change in my life and started accepting it. They now let me attend these meetings and my relationship with them has improved.”

Hannah is now part of the team of volunteers organizing weekly Bible study meetings for young people in a number of Jordan’s traditional churches. Many of the attendants are from poor families. Their parents can’t afford to send them to Christian schools, so they receive a public education based on Koranic teachings. Without the church Bible groups, these Christian youth would hardly ever read the Bible. Hannah even knows examples of Christian girls getting into relationships with Muslim boys and converting to Islam. “Not knowing enough about the Bible can really be dangerous.

There is a huge need in Jordan, and the youth are so hungry,” she says. “Many young people are so lost. They think that God is not there, or that He is very far away. But I know that once they learn who this great God really is, their lives will change.”


[Edited from]
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