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Missional Couple, With Wide Experience in the Middle East, Share their Views on Turmoil There

Phoenix Megachurch Sending 22 Members to Work and Witness Among Muslims

Contact: Ron Keener, Church Executive, 800-541-2670 ext 204

PHOENIX, May 3, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- "The most important way American Christians can show Christ to Muslims is through solidarity in the struggle for justice and liberty," say a couple in missional work. "Dialogue, rather than foreign claims or answering questions that have not been asked, is the only effective form of witness in our time."

J. Martin and Betty Jane Bailey, who have spent a number of years in North Africa and Western Asia, interviewed with Church Executive magazine on the second edition of their new book, "Who Are the Christians in the Middle East?" (Eerdmans, 2010). At a time of turmoil in the Middle East, the Baileys' comments are insightful and timely.

As US troops leave Iraq, the couple says "the way in which Christians from Iraq have been welcomed as refugees in Syria and guaranteed freedom of worship needs more attention in the West."

The couple is cautious about persecution of Christians in Egypt in the current turmoil, but are encouraged in that "the most extreme of Egyptian Muslim groups, the Muslim Brotherhood, has agreed to participate in a new unity government" but that "Pakistan and Iraq are more likely to continue their persecution of Christians, at least in part because Muslim extremists see the Christian communities in their lands as directly related to the United States military."

In witnessing to Muslims, they say "Urgent humanitarian needs, caused by natural disasters and continuing warfare, have provided the occasion for Christian witness and collaboration with local Muslims."

In the same May issue of Church Executive, a Phoenix area megachurch describes how it has been preparing members to live and witness in the Middle East for one or more years. The church, purposely not identified, later this year is sending 22 adults and children to live among Muslims, after some three years of orientation and preparation.

On this initiative, the Baileys commented: "When Christians, today, demonstrate their faith through acts of love and solidarity they are more convincing than any words. The people of the Middle East yearn to see American Christians who come to 'be' with them, rather than to 'talk' at them. We are glad to hear that this Phoenix effort has been carefully planned. Missioners who go need to understand the culture and their new friends. Then, what Riad Jarjour calls 'the dialogue of life,' is possible."

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