By Robert Hamd
Today, the younger generations of Christians are asking the difficult questions, such as why injustice persists. They are passionate about a convergence of the words of scripture and real-life practice. For example, they read passages from Isaiah that challenge us to “learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (1:17). They ponder the book of Jeremiah who criticizes those who “do not judge with justice the cause of the orphan, to make it prosper,” and “do not defend the rights of the needy” (5:28). They hear a similar prophetic voice, that of Hosea, who calls us to “hold fast to love and justice” (12:6), and Amos says, “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream” (5:24). According to the prophet Micah, the Lord requires nothing more of us than to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8).
All these voices challenge all generations of Christ-followers, whether the younger or the older, to put effort into changing the world as it is into the world as it should be, Continue reading
By Brent Hamoud
Landscapes throughout the MENA region have been transformed by unfolding crises of forced migration. This is especially the case in Lebanon. An estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees reside within its borders adding layers of dimension to long-existing populations of displacement.[i] Many Syrian refugees reside in informal tented settlements. These accommodations offer rudimentary living conditions deficient in space, water, sanitation, electricity and protection from the elements. To experience conditions of displacement is to experience a very real and pungent form of suffering. Yet for many outsiders, an experience is exactly what they seek. Continue reading
By Wissam al-Saliby
I am grateful for several recent conversations with American pastor friends, during which we spoke about writing from and on the Middle East, trans-Atlantic (mis)perceptions and political fault lines. One of these friends, who leans toward political conservativism, told me that when reading my posts on the IMES blog he would often dismiss my writings as ‘liberal’ from the very first sentences. He added that, with time, he sought to understand “where I’m coming from” and read my posts in a different light.
In this post, I would like to present some issues on which we might be at odds, but where my personal experience and the socio-political context in which I live would have shaped my positions as a committed follower of Christ differently from Christ followers in the U.S. or elsewhere.
Guns. Continue reading
By Mike Kuhn
While traveling recently through North America, it struck me frequently that normal Christian folk are increasingly face-to-face with people of other faiths, especially Muslims but also with Hindus, Buddhists and others.
I watched Somali women line up for childcare outside a center in Seattle, WA. Syrians were picnicking in a park in Langley, BC, Canada. I stopped into the LA area with its incredible mix of nations from all over the world. Even my Tennessee and Carolinas stops were punctuated with stories and conversations about Iraqi and Rwandan neighbors and ESL classes for refugees.
It was good for me because I stopped watching news media and listened to people. Continue reading
By Elie Haddad
I am a native Lebanese citizen. I was born and raised in Lebanon. I love Lebanon, despite the insecurity, uncertainty, and corruption that characterize the country, and despite having grown up during the civil war. Lebanon has left its mark on me. Even the years of the war have contributed to shaping me into the person that I am today. I love Lebanon with the good and the bad. Consequently, I care a lot about the welfare of Lebanon. But what does this mean for me as a follower of Jesus? Should I care more about the welfare of Lebanon at the expense of other neighboring countries? Should I care about the holders of Lebanese citizenship more than I care about the displaced in Lebanon such as Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians, and the stateless?
I am also a naturalized Canadian citizen. Continue reading
By Arthur Brown
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
-Matthew 22:36 – 40
After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighbouring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them… There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
-1 John 4:16b – 21.
Fear, it seems to me, has always been a dominant force, perhaps one of the most powerful motivating factors in many of our attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. Even for those of us professing faith in Christ – whose love we are told ‘drives out fear’ – there are many things that we fear, if we are honest, which have the potential to negatively impact our witness. Individuals, or typically groups of people, who are in some way ‘different’ are a common source of ‘fear’ and this fear can of course result in hostility, or simply avoidance. Neither option seems appropriate for those called to live out the gospel among the nations. Continue reading
By Rupen Das*
A 2009 study by Tomas Rees on the relationship between poverty and religiousness found that personal insecurity (due to stressful situations, such as poverty) was an important determinant of religiosity. The poor tend to be more religious.
I find the faith of the poor both intriguing and challenging. Intriguing – because I wonder why the poor would turn to God and Christ? Challenging – because they want to know the reality of God made possible in Christ – not a message or a theological proposition. I would have imagined that they would be angry at God, and blame Him for their circumstances – for their poverty and the injustices they face. Why would they ask God (or anyone for that matter) for forgiveness, when it would seem that they have been the ones who have been sinned against? From my perspective, it seemed that God has betrayed and failed them.
In a recent project, we asked the poor why they chose to follow Christ. Continue reading
CLICK HERE TO APPLY
Places at MEC 2017 are filling up fast. If you are planning to attend MEC this year, and have yet to apply [or have had your application approved but have not gone on to register] please do so as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
IMES’ Middle East Consultation [MEC] has developed a fantastic reputation for providing a unique context in which the MENA and global church can come together to address the critical issues facing the Body of Christ in the context of the Middle East and North Africa. As always, MEC will include creative presentations from diverse perspectives, practitioner interviews and witness accounts, roundtable discussions, workshops, interfaith encounters with leading Muslims leaders, Biblical reflections, prayer and worship, and an opportunity to visit a local community to see firsthand some of the challenges faced by certain communities in the region.
However, we are changing our methodology slightly for 2017. Continue reading
By Manal el-Tayar
Her voice quivered as she started speaking. One could sense how intimidating it must have felt for a twenty-year-old to address a crowd of religious leaders, politicians, ambassadors, civil society leaders, academicians and other notable delegates about her vision for a united Lebanon. As Alaa spoke, she glimpsed back a couple of times at Jennifer who stood by her. Jennifer’s beaming smile reassured her friend. Slowly, Alaa grew more confident in her speech and her words resonated with the audience.
The contribution of Alaa and Jennifer to the Celebration of the Annunciation[i] in downtown Beirut on Sunday 26th of March 2017 seemed to be the highlight for many in attendance. “You are the hope of the future,” said one ex- combatant in the civil war: Continue reading
By Caleb Hutcherson
Have you ever thought about your theology of sin in the middle of being stuck in traffic? That chortling I hear doesn’t faze me. And of course, you are right. My friends and family chuckle, too, at my goofy probing of the everyday with theological lenses. But, I think there is something to be gained when we recognize and reflect on how the actions and practices of everyday life are, in a very real sense, a form of speaking about God. Reflection can be short or long, focused or philosophical. But the practice of reflecting theologically on the everyday can help us to grow to be more mindful of the ways that our speaking about God (in words and actions) shapes and is shaped by life.
This particular reflection burst through the mind-bending frustration that built as I once again sat in traffic in Beirut, trying to get home from work. Continue reading