15th Apr 2019

It’s hard to hold a serious conversation when you’re wearing someone else’s pyjamas… I know this to be true having once met an entire community dressed in bright red borrowed pyjamas.

I was studying Arabic in Cairo and I had been invited to visit the family of a friend I had made at my language school. At this point my Arabic was tentative at best and my friend spoke no English, so I wasn’t 100% certain of what was expected of me. When I reached her house she asked me if I wanted to change into my pyjamas. Slightly baffled since it was 11 am I said “No, I hadn’t brought any with me”. Oh she said, we always wear pyjamas in the house, and provided some of hers. Since foreigners were a bit of a rarity in that part of town my friend’s extended family were all very keen to meet me, and so for the rest of the day I found myself dutifully greeting a steady stream of visitors in my bright red borrowed pyjamas. I inwardly cringed as I met each person and chalked it up to a unique learning experience.

Several years later, my husband and I had moved overseas, again to the Middle East. After the initial period of culture shock we had settled into our new life happily enough, and with our language learning now at an advanced stage, we began to think that we finally knew what we were doing – we no longer felt like strangers in a foreign land.

Until the funeral...

One morning my friend and neighbour, whose family we loved and spent a lot of time with, called with the news that her grandma had died. The funeral would be held the next day, and we were invited to attend. Having not been to a funeral before I called a friend who had lived in the country a lot longer than me and asked her how we should best pay our respects, what we should say, dress and bring. Armed with this information my husband and I headed over to our friends’ house. On arrival we were seated and served the traditional food offered at such occasions. Only then, as we looked around, did it dawn on us…everybody else in the room was female.

 

“I’m the only man here” my husband whispered desperately, a note of panic creeping into his voice. “What should I do?”

 

Well, in that situation there’s not a lot you can do! We were rescued by our wonderfully gracious neighbours, who went out of their way to make us both feel welcome and deflected our embarrassment by producing a myriad of small boys, young enough to be at a women only event. Meanwhile, my husband ate faster than I’ve ever seen him eat before or since, and left as soon as was feasibly polite. We discovered later the men were meeting in a different house, in a different town, nearly an hour’s drive away!

So, how could we have avoided these mistakes? Perhaps we could have asked more questions, but it can be hard to know the right questions to ask - you don’t know what you don’t know! In fact, after years of making all kinds of similarly embarrassing mistakes, the conclusion I’ve come to is the only way to avoid such moments would be to stay firmly at home in my own culture. But how less rich my life would have been if I’d made that choice for that reason! I would never have experienced life in a poor Palestinian village, never been where few foreigners had ventured, never learnt how Muslims mourn their dead, never understood what life at home is like for a Muslim woman. I would have missed out on the love and kindness of strangers who saw my vulnerability and naivety and sought to welcome, encourage and protect me.

 

I would have missed out on the pain of immersing myself in a culture I did not understand and feeling like a child as I struggled to learn new words,

 

 and new ways, but I also might have missed out on Jesus drawing close to me and soothing that pain, and showing me that He too experienced these feelings, He too knew what it was like to come to a new culture and begin again as a baby.

Jesus loved us enough to come down and incarnate in our culture. He left the comfort of heaven because He loved us so much, He experienced our pain, our suffering, our joys as one of us and because of that we can bring all our experiences to Him knowing that He truly understands. He is not a distant God looking down from heaven but He has been one of us. He knows what it is like to be human and He has even experienced the weight of our sins despite living a sinless life. How much poorer we would be if He had not done this, if He had not sacrificed His life for us. How much poorer we are if God is asking us to go to another culture, and we do not heed His call to go; if He is asking us to ‘incarnate’ amongst another people group and love them as He loves us, and we do not respond. So although it might cost something – comfort, pride and dignity amongst other things - to go to those who have never heard the gospel, the rewards are great for them and for us, and not just the eternal ones.

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1 day ago

Saturday 15th June

Obstacles to new believers

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

In Islam, there are 99 names for Allah, but “father” is not a...

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2 days ago

Friday 14th June

Bedouin of the Arabian Peninsula

The Arabian Peninsula Bedouin are no longer moving their tents and herds of camels with the rain. Almost all have moved into some sort of fixed building, often with government help. Some have moved to the big cities and only go back...

Read More

3 days ago

Thursday 13th June

Bedouin tribes in Jordan in the Middle East

The Bedouin tribes of Jordan consist of around half a million people living in the rural east and south of the country, known as the Badia area. Many seeds of the gospel have been sown among them over decades of faithfu...

Read More

4 days ago

Wednesday 12th June

Testimony

Upon hearing the gospel, a Bedouin man could not get over the fact that God had sacrificed his own son for him. He stood up in front of a group of men and asked how many of them had sons. He exclaimed: “Would you give up your son for me?”
Read More

5 days ago

Tuesday 11th June

Bedouin tribes in Sinai in Egypt, North Africa

You may hear about North Sinai in the news as a haven for terrorists and where the persecution of Christians is commonplace. However, there are also many Bedouin tribes seeking to live a peaceful life in the land. Read More

6 days ago

Monday 10th June

Who are the Arab Bedouins?

Bedouin are traditionally shepherds, keeping camels, goats or sheep. However, they are increasingly exchanging the tent for permanent settlement, due to changing economic and social circumstances in the region, but many still keep a small...

Read More

1 day ago

Saturday 15th June

Obstacles to new believers

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

In Islam, there are 99 names for Allah, but “father” is not among them. The whole idea of a relational God is alien to Bedouins.

Bedouins will often point out just how much Muslims and Christians have in common. But the greatest stumbling block remains the cross. God’s divine plan of salvation to bring life through death, glory through humiliation, and victory through utter defeat is a notion that is alien to Muslim Bedouins. And yet, this wonderful truth has the power to transform their current and future destinies.

Another stumbling block is the fear of losing their belonging and identity in the tribe. Each Bedouin sees himself not as an individual, but as a part of the bigger collective of the tribe. In the tribe, each family member is traditionally bound by obligations of mutual assistance. Because of their strong group culture and need to conform, it is complicated for an individual to start following Jesus within their own tribe. This may lead to persecution with some facing death threats and banishment from the tribe and also the risk of losing their job and family.

Some known Bedouin believers live isolated lives, not integrated into fellowships of other believers. Because the Bedouin live in rural places, discipleship by mature believers from outside their communities is risky and logistically hard.

• Lord Jesus, strengthen new believers to hold fast to your Word, even in the face of persecution, that they may develop godly character.

• We pray the Bedouin will see, hear and understand the mystery of the cross so that they may turn to you, freely enter into your presence and receive your healing, joy and peace.

• Heavenly Father, we ask you to draw not just individuals to yourself, but whole families, that they may start following Jesus within their own tribe, transforming and redeeming their tribe from within, according to your purposes. Bless those who are persecuted out of their tribes, that they may find their identity and security in you.

• Lord, bring a huge harvest among the Bedouin! Stir up movements for Jesus in many places and tribes. Make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

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2 days ago

Friday 14th June

Bedouin of the Arabian Peninsula

The Arabian Peninsula Bedouin are no longer moving their tents and herds of camels with the rain. Almost all have moved into some sort of fixed building, often with government help. Some have moved to the big cities and only go back ‘home’ during Eid festivals or weddings or to visit a sick relative. Others go out almost every weekend and are still attached to their desert lifestyle and herds of camels. Most have a Sudanese or Pakistani to shepherd their camels.

Only a few cross-cultural workers are living in close proximity with the Bedouin communities throughout the Gulf. Many more workers are needed in their city neighbourhoods and out in the thousands of villages.

• Father, we ask you to bless the Bedouin in the Arabian Peninsula and for more workers to move into their neighbourhoods as a witness.

• We ask you to show your greatness and holiness to these Bedouin tribes, and make yourself known to them, so that they will know that you are Lord. We then ask that they will go back to their villages as ambassadors for your Kingdom.

“So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 38:23

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3 days ago

Thursday 13th June

Bedouin tribes in Jordan in the Middle East

The Bedouin tribes of Jordan consist of around half a million people living in the rural east and south of the country, known as the Badia area. Many seeds of the gospel have been sown among them over decades of faithful witness, but few believers are known among them. They are hard to reach in faraway rural areas.

The Zuwayda tribe live in the rural south of Jordan in the beautiful Wadi Rum area. They are Muslims but used to be a Christian tribe a long time ago. They converted to Islam when they were stricken with poverty and were no longer able to pay the Islamic tax for unbelievers. To this day, they mark their camels with crosses.

The Ghayath tribe live in the north-eastern part of Jordan, close to the Iraqi border. Most of them don’t have citizenship and many are very poor. Due to lack of job opportunities many of the men are involved in the smuggling of drugs and are looked down upon by other Bedouins.

• Lord we ask that you redeem the Ghayath tribe and use them to bless the other tribes, just like you did with Gideon. We ask you to free them from the bondage of drug addiction and smuggling and that they would instead take the gospel to unreached places.

• Pray that the cross may make its way into the hearts of the Zuwayda again. Let’s ask God to bring the Zuwayda back under His wings, put His laws into their hearts and write them on their minds, that they may be His people once again.

• Lord, let there be a breakthrough among the Bedouin tribes of Jordan, leading to a movement among them. Send more workers to live and witness amongst them. Bring forth your blessings to the Bedouin like rivers in the desert.

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds.” Hebrews 10:16

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4 days ago

Wednesday 12th June

Testimony

Upon hearing the gospel, a Bedouin man could not get over the fact that God had sacrificed his own son for him. He stood up in front of a group of men and asked how many of them had sons. He exclaimed: “Would you give up your son for me?”

He went on to tell them that he had committed a murder and now needed someone to take his place in order to make amends. The other men started shouting, “Don’t give him your son, he’s not worth it!” Some were willing, however, to offer him blood money instead.

Blood feuds are still normal among Bedouins, and when someone is killed, a ransom needs to be paid.

After an animated discussion, the man finally explained that he had not committed a murder but wanted to illustrate to them how amazing it was that God Almighty gave his own son to pay for the sin of another.

This illiterate Bedouin had understood the core message of salvation through listening to an audio Bible.

Listen to a beautiful worship song by Andrew Peterson called Is He Worthy? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIahc83Kvp4

• Father, we praise you that your Word is available in audio format for the many illiterate Bedouin and ask that many more come to see you as the ransom for their sin and shame.

• Many Muslims throughout the world are being drawn to faith in Christ through dreams and visions, often of a man with a shining face and a shining robe calling to them. Pray that God will give dreams of Christ to the Bedouin tribes scattered throughout the Middle East and North Africa and visions to draw them to Himself.

• Ask for the Bedouins to have a revelation of the truth, that Jesus purchased their life by His death on the cross.

“And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9

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5 days ago

Tuesday 11th June

Bedouin tribes in Sinai in Egypt, North Africa

You may hear about North Sinai in the news as a haven for terrorists and where the persecution of Christians is commonplace. However, there are also many Bedouin tribes seeking to live a peaceful life in the land.

The Tarabin are a tribe that live primarily in the town of Nuweiba and surrounding desert villages in the eastern part of the Sinai Peninsula. The men work in tourism as desert guides or as fishermen. The women make beautiful jewellery.

South Sinai is a mountainous desert region with only a few springs of water here and there. It is famous for Mount Sinai as well as for the Red Sea coast and lush coral reefs. The Bedouins have lived in the region for several hundred years and have recently settled into towns because of better work prospects. There are at least seven different tribes.

One of these is the Muzeina tribe. This tribe are the largest in South Sinai with families represented in most of the towns and villages. They are a generous people always ready to invite friends and strangers alike in for tea or a meal.

Another tribe is the Jabelaya. They live in the mountains and wadis surrounding Mt. Sinai, in and around the village of St. Katherine. Like the Tarabin, the men primarily work in tourism as hiking guides and the women do beautiful beading and embroidery. As tourism has decreased, they need more work opportunities for families and adequate health care.

• Pray that the Jabelaya will have the opportunity to hear God’s Word and will find all their needs are met in Him.

• Pray that the Muzeina will have open hearts to the Lord and that He will reveal himself to them through His word and through dreams and visions. May He draw many Muzeina to himself and to salvation in Jesus Christ.

• Pray for more field workers to bring the gospel to the Tarabin and that a movement towards Jesus will spread through them into Northern Sinai.

• There are currently no known field workers in North Sinai, in part due to the military prohibiting foreigners from entering. Pray for peace and hope to return to this region, so will be an open door for workers and that God will reveal himself to the people there in supernatural ways.

“And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:1

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6 days ago

Monday 10th June

Who are the Arab Bedouins?

Bedouin are traditionally shepherds, keeping camels, goats or sheep. However, they are increasingly exchanging the tent for permanent settlement, due to changing economic and social circumstances in the region, but many still keep a small flock of goats or sheep.

The word bedouin comes from the Arab word bedu which means desert dweller. Today they live in countries across North Africa and the Middle East.

They live in tight-knit communities, usually as part of the larger tribe to which they belong. Many are illiterate (this is especially true for the women), and their dialect is quite different from the surrounding urban dialects.

They are renowned for their loyalty, hospitality and generosity. It is a Bedouin’s most sacred duty to honour his guest in every way possible.

They are, however, almost completely unexposed to the gospel. Indeed, for centuries they have been largely ignored, with no witness to Christ amongst them whatsoever. Bedouins are proud Muslims. The first converts to Islam came from the Bedouin tribes living in and around Mecca. Islam has become embedded and deeply rooted in Bedouin culture. Bedouins also believe very strongly in demons called jinn or genie. They believe that demons hide in bathrooms and caves protecting buried treasure. Bedouins will mumble the name of God before entering a tent, a room or a car and also before eating, drinking or performing any task. This is thought to ward off evil spirits. Bedouins will visit “witch doctors” for many problems, hoping the séances and charms will help them.

But praise God, momentum is building for a wonderful breakthrough among the Bedouin. A little spring is starting to burst forth, which we want to see turn into a mighty river of blessing in the desert areas of the Middle East and North Africa.
• Lord, we pray for movements to sweep through all the Bedouin tribes across North Africa and the Middle East, expanding the Kingdom and seeing transformation in their communities.

• Heavenly Father, we ask that the Bedouin across the Middle East and North Africa will come to know Jesus as the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for them, that they will learn to know his voice and follow him.

• Father, we ask that you would send out more workers amongst the Bedouin peoples and work in the hearts of your people to move them to love these tribes and see Christ declared and followed in their midst.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

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