What do you do when you “vacation” in the Middle East? I will tell you some of my experiences the five times I flew to a time zone eight hours away.
Not one family in this country had a free-standing house. Most of the people live with their relatives in the adjoining apartments. You eat wonderful food, prepared by a very hospitable people. Even in November the weather is great to eat on their porch.
I learned that when you go to another country, you want to meet the residents in their homes. I now invite students from China and Saudi Arabia to my home because I know they want to be there. It would be sad if all they saw were dorm rooms and homes on television.
We went to a private school and taught the children about the American Thanksgiving holiday. We taught them to draw a hand turkey and to write things they were thankful for and gave them toothbrushes and toothpaste while telling them a Bible story. Of course, we had the help of the teachers, as we did not speak Arabic.
One of the challenges is the contrasts of this country. There are the poorest and wealthiest people I have ever seen living together. There are mountains with snow only 70 miles from the ocean. There are buildings over 2,000 years old, ruins of Roman bath houses, and arenas where people watched chariot races, along with the most modern of sky scrapers and the most elaborate mosques.
If you go in the summer, you may lead a Vacation Bible School not only teaching the children, but training the church leaders. We used interpreters as the children are taught French, not English, as a second language.
Many of the churches do not have programs for teaching the Bible to children, so they also asked for training in how we teach “Sunday School.”
If you visit during Christmas, you might distribute Samaritan’s Purse Christmas boxes to refugees and act out the Christmas story numerous times using cardboard cut-outs as visual aids.
Muslims also celebrate Jesus’ birth. They believe Jesus was a great prophet, but not the son of God.
Notice that everyone is wearing coats; this church-sponsored school for refugees cannot afford heat. They spend their money paying teachers, also refugees.
My most memorable experience was using a candy cane to tell the gospel. As I spoke through an interpreter, explaining how Jesus died to pay for each person’s sins, I realized the refugees were recording what I was saying on their phones.
I don’t know if any of them have or will choose to change their eternity by believing in Jesus. But my experiences in the Middle East have changed my perception of “foreigners.” I fell in love with these hospitable people. I pray for the believers and I pray for the unbelievers. I am eager to go back to see my friends and to make new friends. The land is beautiful, but it is the people who keep me going back.The reason I keep returning to the Middle East is the people. I have fallen in love with these… Click To Tweet
- Share how you were changed by your experiences in another culture.
- What did you do to get to know the people?
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