Greetings in the name of the Lord from Nevada. I am currently on the return portion of an Overseas Council “road-trip” from Houston to San Diego and back again.
Before this trip, I was privileged to travel for a week with Abraham Najjar*, the Overseas Council Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). We spoke at a series of lunches and dinners during a five-city Texas tour. I met Abraham in Dallas and we drove to and stopped in Midland, Austin, San Antonio and Houston. He then flew back to Atlanta from Houston. He is currently spending some time in Atlanta at Columbia Seminary as a scholar in residence. He is residing there temporarily while he writes two books, in Arabic, for use in seminaries in the Middle East.
At each lunch or dinner, Abraham presented his thoughts and reflections about his work, and the work of Overseas Council, throughout the Middle East. He shared stories about/from students, progress of our partner schools and many of the challenges that Christians face in the Middle East. While driving between cities, and in Texas those drives are long, we were able to share some great conversation about MENA work, theology and life in general. Be sure to ask me to relate some of his stories the next time we are together.
An interesting lesson that Abraham taught me was about the rise of Islam in the Middle East. He pointed out that Islam was able to rise in the midst of Christianity for several reasons but primarily two: 1) The lack of the Bible in the language of the culture; 2) The lack of development of local leadership for the church. Interesting enough, both of these problems are being addressed today, and we are seeing growth in the Evangelical church in the Middle East in the midst of Islam.