You’ve got a passion for the Middle East and its people, you want to be a part of what God is doing in the region – so what should you do next? Let us inspire you with 7 practical tips…
1. Learn Arabic
Learning a language is a bit like gaining a superpower – it gives you the ability to get to the heart of a community, build friendships and deepen cross-cultural relationships like nothing else will. Why not spend some time getting to grips with the Arabic alphabet, or if you’re keen to just get speaking, find a local tutor or Arabic course near you. We’ve given you a few words to get you started!
2. Learn As Much As You Can
Sadly, the Middle East is often presented in the media as one big war zone, but it’s important to realise that Western media doesn’t always give the full picture. Try reading local news from the region for a more realistic perspective – here’s a handy list of local Middle Eastern news websites in English.
If you want to fully understand the region, it's also worth brushing up on Middle Eastern history, and learning the basics of Islam. You might even consider pursuing higher education – several universities offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses, like this MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at SOAS.
Of course, the best way to learn about the Middle East is to go there! Whether it’s marvelling at the Great Pyramids of Giza, smoking nargileh in the backstreets of Amman, worshipping with local believers in Jerusalem or Bethlehem, or exploring the mountains and wadis of Oman – there’s no better way to grow in love and compassion for the Middle East than to go there and meet the people for yourself. Obviously not everywhere is safe to travel, so just make sure you check the latest travel advice before you go.
4. Get Your Church On Board
I'd hazard a guess that somewhere in your church there's a map of the world with drawing pins in it, showing the missions you support - but are there any pins in the Middle East area? If you want to encourage your church to share your passion, why not ask if you can speak for a couple of minutes at the beginning of a service and show one of our Arabian Dawn testimony videos.
If you’d rather not speak yourself, then invite a speaker from MEM - we'd love to share some inspiring stories of God at work in the Middle East. For more ways to encourage your church to think globally, take a look at the Global Connections website for loads of great resources and ideas.
5. Host A Middle Eastern Dinner Party
If you love the Middle East, chances are you also love Middle Eastern cuisine! Have a go at making your own houmous and falafel, or a delicious Moroccan tagine (it’s amazing what a Ras el-Hanout spice blend can do to a basic lamb stew!) If you want to take it one step further, why not invite some guests to join you for a Middle Eastern dinner, ask them to donate what they would have spent on a takeaway, and give it to MEM instead?
6. Give Financially
One of the best things we can do for the Middle East is to support what Middle Eastern Christians are already doing to transform their own societies. This is one of our core values at MEM – it’s not about sending people ‘out there’, but rather empowering local Middle Eastern people to reach their own people in the most culturally relevant ways possible (take a look at our projects to see how they’re doing just that).
Finally, if you can only do one thing from this list, please pray for the Middle East. Pray for God’s peace in situations of conflict, for wisdom for its leaders, for people’s hearts to be open to God, and for hope for the future of the Middle East. Please pray especially for Middle Eastern Christians, that they would stay close to Jesus and continue to be His witness to those around them, even in the face of persecution. You could also consider joining or starting a local Mahabba prayer group to pray with other like-minded Christians for the Muslim world.
If you’re stuck for ways to pray, why not sign up to our regular prayer updates or bookmark our Prayer Blog – they’ll give you regular updates on how to pray for our work and the current events of the region.
Have you tried any of these, or do you have any more ideas to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!