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Middle East.

For current informationsee CIA World Factbook A. 1. Area not exactly defined; gen. includes lands bet. Medit. basin and Indus R.; sometimes includes Balkan States and NE Afr.; often called Near East. Christianity, Judaism,* and Islam* began in the Middle E. Inhabitants include Turks, Armenians, Greeks, Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Jews, Persians.

2. Decline of Brit. influence, rise of nationalism, creation of the state of Israel 1948, formation of the United Arab Rep. 1958, Fed. of S. Arabia 1963, and Fed. of Arab Reps. 1971, and other more recent developments profoundly influenced the Middle E.

3. Islam claims 90–99% of the inhabitants of most of Middle E. countries. Most Middle E. countries signed the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which granted freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; but in practice the community combination of family, clan, religion (often legally recognized) does not allow change of religion. Freedom of religion means that non-Muslim can minister to their own groups within their own precincts; it does not allow miss. work. In many areas the “millet” is the non-Muslim religious community organized as a legal entity in the state, with its own community court and community laws, with the provision to refrain from pol. agitation. Non-Muslim religious groups not in a “millet” have no rights. Islam identifies the statues and icons of Christian chs. with idolatry. It opposes the doctrine of the Trin. and associates Christians with imperialism and colonialism.

4. Christians in the Middle E. are mostly mems. of RC and E Cath. chs. These chs. strive to keep their community intact, fear change in their “working arrangement” with Muslim, are prejudiced against Muslim, and distrust Prots.

5. Brit. influence in Malta* since 1799 furthered miss. work there. The LMS, BFBS, ABCFM, CMS, SPCK, SPG, and the London Soc. for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews (Ch. Missions to Jews) were at work in the Middle E. early in the 19th c.

6. Since immediate effective contact with Muslim was impossible, Prot. missions tried to est. a working relationship with Cath. chs. (Roman and E.). Caths. who favored Prot. efforts were excluded by Cath. chs. and became the nucleus of nationalized Prot. chs. Their work was done through hosps., schools, clinics, orphanages, etc. By the late 1960s the Syrian Orthodox Ch. was a mem. of the Near* E. Council of Chs.; other Orthodox chs. sat on some committees and participated in some projects.

B. Rep. of Turkey.Area: ca. 301,000 sq. mi. Ca. 98% Muslim. Modern pol. hist. dates from 1923, when Mustafa Kemal became 1st pres. of Rep. of Turkey. The teaching of Islam in jr. high schools throughout the country became compulsory 1956; a faculty of theol. was est. in state-controlled U. of Ankara. Evangelistic activity is sharply curtailed by law.

In 1820 Pliny Fisk(e) (1792–1825; Cong. miss.; b. Shelburne, Massachusetts; educ. Middlebury [Vermont] Coll. and Andover [Massachusetts] Theol. Sem.; preacher Wilmington, Vermont; miss. to Middle E.; works include Eng.-Arab. dictionary) and Levi Parsons (1792–1822; b. Goshen, Massachusetts; educ. Middlebury [Vermont] Coll. and Andover [Massachusetts] Theol. Sem.; worked under Vermont Miss. Soc.; miss. to Middle E.) explored the possibilities of miss. work in Asia Minor for the ABCFM William Goodell (1792–1867; Cong. miss.; b. Templeton, Massachusetts; educ. Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, Dartmouth Coll., Hanover, New Hampshire, and Andover [Massachusetts] Theol. Sem.; studied medicine; miss. to Middle E.) began permanent work June 1831 with HQ at Constantinople; worked ca. 5 yrs. in Beirut (1823–28); tr. Bible into Armeno-Turkish. Most of his converts were from the Armenian Ch. Excommunicated by the Armenian Ch., they organized the 1st ev. ch. in the Middle E. in Constantinople 1846; it was officially recognized 1850. ABCFM missionaries est. Robert Coll. at Bebek 1863 (moved to Constantinople ca. 1871) and Am. Coll. for Girls, Constantinople (Istanbul). The Basel Miss. Soc. began work in the 1820s. The CMS began in Smyrna in the 1830s. Others included SPG, Am. Baps., Disciples of Christ, Ch. of the Brethren, Eng. Quakers, London Jews' Soc., Seventhday Adventists. Nearly all withdrew in course of time, leaving the ABCFM as almost the only representative of Protestantism. The ABS est. a depository in Istanbul.

See also Anatolia; Malche, Frauenmission.

C. Syria (Syrian Arab Rep.). Area: ca. 71,500 sq. mi. ca. 90% Arab (others include Kurd, Armenian, Turkish, Fr.); ca. 87% Sunni Muslim. Ca. 830,000 Christians: mostly RC, E Orthodox, and Nonchalcedonian; Prots. (ca. 17,000). Paul preached at Damascus (Acts 9:20). Antioch (now Antakya, or Antakiya) was an early Christian center. Since the Arab conquest 636, Islam* has been the prevailing religion. Fr. mandate 1920; indep. in the mid-1940s; joined Egypt 1958 to form United Arab Rep., withdrew 1961; joined Egypt and Libya 1971 to form Fed. (or Confederation) of Arab Republics, but by August 1974 the fed. was no longer operative.

Joseph Wolff (1795–1862; b. Weilersbach, near Bamberg, Ger.; Jew; converted 1812) of London Jews' Soc. (see also H and I) made exploratory visits to Syria 1822–23. L. Parsons and P. Fisk(e) (see B) arrived Smyrna 1819. In 1870 the field was transferred to Am. Presbs., who operate Aleppo College. Elizabeth Maria Thompson (nee Lloyd; d. November 14, 1869) founded the work which became the Lebanon* Ev. Miss. By 1912 there were 38 Prot. groups in Syria; decreased to ca. 20 by withdrawal and combinations. Well-known Prot. hosps. in Syria: Deir-Ez-Zor Hosp.; Victoria Hosp. in Damascus (Edinburgh Med. Miss.); Luth. Hosp. at En Nebk (Dan. Orient Miss.). Larger Prot. groups: Nat. Ev. Syn. of Syria and Lebanon; Angl. Ch., Diocese of Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Smaller groups: Ch. of God; Ch. of the Nazarene; Assemblies of God; Seventh-day Adventist. Syria and Lebanon are often worked together.

D Rep. of Lebanon. Area: ca. 3,950 sq. mi. Mostly Arab. Govt. structure adopted 1943 was based on official religious census Christians were in the majority, making the pres. Maronite (see Maronites), the premier Sunni Muslim. By the 1970s Moslems were in the majority and demanded a larger role, contributing to strife that continued into the 1980s. 1983 est.: Christians ca. 40%. P. Fisk(e) (see B and C) began work in Beirut 1823. Am. Presbs. began 1835, took over much of the Middle E. work of the ABCFM 1870; they operate 2 boys' schools (Tripoli, Sidon), 4 girls' schools (Tripoli, Sidon, Beirut, En [or El] Nabatiye [or Al-Nabatiyah]), and 2 colleges in Lebanon (Beirut Coll. for Women; Near E. Coll. of Theol. in Beirut). Kennedy Mem. Hosp. (Tripoli) and Hamlin Mem. Sanatorium (near Beirut) are outstanding med. institutions. Syrian Prot. Coll., founded 1866 under Christian miss. sponsorship, became Am. U. of Beirut 1920. St. Joseph U. was founded 1846 at Ghazir by Jesuits as a sem.; moved to Beirut 1875; other faculties added to form U.

Other miss. include Lebanon* Ev. Miss.; Ch. of God (Anderson, Indiana); The Ev. Alliance Miss.; S. Baps.; Disciples of Christ; Home of Onesiphorus; Ref. Presb. Ch. of Scot.; Seventh-day Adventists; Dan. Ch.

Carl Leonard Folke Agerstrand (b. August 14, 1900) of LCMS began a radio miss. on the state-operated radio station in Beirut in the early 1950s. It was extended to station ELWA, Monrovia, Liberia, 1957, and Radio Voice of the Gospel, Addis Ababa, 1963. This miss. also operates Bible correspondence courses since 1952 and has chapels in Beirut.

Beirut is a center of Christian missions to the Middle East. The Near* E. Council of Chs. has its headquarters there. The Am. Press, Arabic Christian Publishers (formerly Nile Mission Press), Tower Library, ABS, the Middle E. HQ of BFBS, and Union of Armenian Ev. Chs. in the Near E. are in Beirut. Miss. schools in Beirut include Near E. Coll. of Theol.

E Rep. of Cyprus. Is. ca. 60 mi. W of Syria. Are 3,572 sq. mi. Visited by Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13). Most Gks. (ca. 78–80% of pop.) are E Orthodox; most Turks (ca. 18% of pop.) are Muslim. Angls., other Prots., and RCs are a small minority. Active socs. and chs. include Christian Missions in Many Lands; Jerusalem and the East Miss.; Ch. of God; Ref. Presb. Ch. of N. Am.

F. State of Israel. Area: 8,219 sq. mi. perhaps ca. 85–88% Jews; ca. 7% Muslim; most Christians are RC and E Orthodox; several thousand Prots. The Balfour Declaration 1917 helped pave the way for Jews to est. a nat. homeland in Palestine. The Jewish Nat. Council proclaimed the Jewish state of Israel May 14, 1948; the Golan Heights annexed 1981. Official language: Heb. Religious courts are autonomous in the several religious communities. The League to Combat Apostasy obstructs miss. work. The OT is a standard textbook in schools. Christian shrines are preserved.

Prot. miss. work in Israel is confined almost exclusively to Jerusalem, Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Lydda, Nazareth, and Tiberias. The London Jews' Soc. (Angl.) started in Jerusalem 1820, opened Jerusalem Hosp. 1848. Christ Ch. began 1833. An Angl. bishopric was est. 1840. The CMS started in Jerusalem 1851, built hosps. at Jaffa and Lydda, an orphanage at Nazareth. The Edinburgh Med. Miss. Soc. has a hosp. at Nazareth. Other socs. and chs. working in Israel include Jerusalem and the E. Miss.; Mildmay Miss. to Jews; United Free Ch. of Scot.; Christian and Miss. Alliance; Christian Missions in Many Lands, Ltd.; Wesleyan Meth. Miss. Soc.; Seventh-day Adventists; Assemblies of God; Mennonites; Ch. of the Nazarene; S. Baps. The 1948 Arab-Israeli War extensively damaged Christian missions.

BFBS and ABS have a joint agency in Haifa. See also Judaism; Zionism.

The Fin. Miss. Soc. has a children's home and school in Jerusalem. The Swed. Israel Miss. has a theol. research institute there. The Dan. Israel Miss. has workers in Carmel and Tel Aviv, and the Norw. Israel Miss. has workers in Haifa and Jaffa (part of Tel Aviv).

G. Jordan (called Transjordan [Trans-Jordan; Transjordania] till 1949; const. name since 1949 Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan). Area: ca. 37,000 sq. mi. Ca. 94% Arabs. Jordan was Brit. mandate 1923–46, indep. kingdom since 1946. Religion ca. 94% Muslim, ca. 6% Christian. Severe restrictions are placed on miss. work among Muslim.

The RC and E Orthodox chs. came to Jordan at an early date. Petra was the seat of a metropolitan bp. in the 4th c. Angls. were among earliest Prots. in Jordan. The CMS has a girls' school in Amman and relief work in Zerka and Salt. The Jerusalem and the East Miss. has the Bishop's School for Boys in Amman and St. George's School in Jerusalem. The Christian and Miss. Alliance has worked in Jerusalem and Hebron since the 1890s. Others at work in Jordan include S. Baps.; Seventh-day Adventists; Indep. Bd. for Presb. For. Miss.; Am. Friends; Ch. of the Nazarene; Assemblies of God.

Luths. have worked in Jerusalem since mid-19th c. Kaiserswerth deaconesses came to Jerusalem 1851 and est. the “Talitha Kumi” orphanage and a hosp. The Ger. Jerusalemsverein was est. 1852. J. L. Schneller* est. his “Syrian orphanage”; his work was continued by his son and grandson, and the Schneller schools were est. William II (Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert; 1859–1941; emp. of Ger. and king of Prussia 1888–1918) built the Ch. of the Redeemer and the Augusta Victoria Institute (the latter on the Mount of Olives). After WW II the LWF carried on an extensive relief program and subsidized the cong. and educ. work of the Ger. missions (Palästinawerk). The Ev. Luth. Ch. in Jordan was organized in 1959.

H. Rep. of Iraq (formerly Mesopotania). Area: ca. 169,000 sq. mi. 95% Arab Muslim, ca. 3.5% Christians, ca. 1.5% others (e.g., Yezedees [Yezidis] and Jews). Iraq freed from Turks in WW I; const. monarchy est. by Gt. Brit. 1921; sovereign state 1932. There is tension and strife bet. Kurds and Iraqis. Since the revolution of 1958 missions have been curtailed.

In the 1820s J. Wolff (see C and I) contacted Jewish colonies in Iraq. The Basel Miss. Soc. founded a school for Armenians in Baghdad 1830. Henry Aaron Stern (1820–85; b. Unterreichenbach, Hessen-Kassel, Ger.; Jew; converted 1840) made contacts with Jews at Baghdad and elsewhere in Mesopotamia beginning 1844. ABCFM est. a station at Mosul in the 1850s. CMS entered Iraq 1882; its missions were later given to the Jerusalem and the East Mission. The United Miss. in Iraq was formed in 1924 by Am. chs. of Ref. background; it has a school for girls in Baghdad. Others include Arabian Miss.; Ev. Alliance Miss.; Seventh-day Adventists; Assemblies of God. The Luth. Orient Miss. Soc. (Kurdistan Miss.), est. ca. 1910, works among Kurds.

I. Islamic Rep. of Iran (called Persia till 1935). Area: ca. 636,400 sq. mi. Aryans descended of ancient Persians who speak Farsi (Persian); ca. 95% Shi'a Muslim. Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity are officially recognized. The govt. is a const. monarchy. The ev. chs. have complete freedom to conduct services; conversions from Islam are more numerous than in any other Middle E. country. See also Fossum, Ludvig Olsen.

H. Martyn* was the 1st modern miss. to Iran 1811; tr. NT into Persian. Ten yrs. later J. Wolff (see C and H) contacted Jews in Iran. The Basel Miss., Soc. began at Tabriz 1831. Justin Perkins (1805–69; b. West Springfield, Massachusetts; miss. to Nestorian Christians in NW Persia) of the ABCFM began 1834, opened an important station at Urmia (now Rizaiyeh) 1835; this miss. was given to the Am. Presb. Bd. 1870. The Ev. Presb. Ch. emphasizes educ. and med. work, with hosps. in Tehran, Tabriz, Hamadan, Resht, Kermanshah, and Meshed; its schools were nationalized 1940; it operates a community school in Tehran for children of for. diplomats; its miss. numbers ca. 3,000 communicants. The CMS began 1869 and cencentrated on evangelization of Muslim and Jews, and strengthening the older chs.; it has stations at Isfahan, Shiraz, and Abadan. Others include Iran Interior Miss. (work later taken over by Internat. Missions, Inc.); Assemblies of God; Seventh-day Adventists; BFBS; Ch. Miss. to Jews.

J. Dem. Rep. of Afghanistan. Area: ca. 252,000 sq. mi. Perhaps ca. 95% Sunni Muslim; some Hindus, Sikhs, and Jews. Began 1747 as the indep. Durani Empire; became const. monarchy with Islam* as the state religion 1932. In 1973 the monarchy was overthrown and a rep. proclaimed. Miss work forbidden. CMS in Pakistan and the Presbs. USA in Iran have stations near the border. See also Loewenthal, Isidor.

K. Pakistan. See Asia, B 2.

L. Arabia. Peninsula SW Asia ca. 1,400 mi. long, ca. 1,250 mi. wide; pop. by Arab Muslim. Saudi Arabia and Yemen did not sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see also A 3). Slavery is legalized.

Acc. to tradition, Bartholomew preached the Gospel in Arabia. Paul visited Arabia (Gl 1:17–18). When Persian Christians were persecuted by Shapur II (Lat. Sapor; reigned 309–379), many fled to Arabia. A Christian settlement was founded 380 AD in Hirah. Acc. to tradition, Abd-Kelal, Hamyarite (or Himyarite) king ca. 275 AD, was a Christian. Dzu-Nowas (Dunowas; king 490–525) embraced Judaism and persecuted the Christians. Arabia is the birthplace of Islam.*

I. G. N. Keith-Falconer* began modern Prot. missions in Arabia at Aden 1886. After his death, students of the Dutch Ref. Ch. in Am. continued the work and est. the Arabian Miss. 1888/89; its most famous miss. was S. M. Zwemer*; The Ref. Ch. in Am. lent support to this miss. beginning 1894. Other miss. include the Dan. Ch. Miss.; Ch. of Scot. Miss.; Indep. Bd. for Presb. For. Miss.; S. Baps.; and Sudan Interior Miss.

1. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Area: 830,000 sq. mi. Language: Arabic. 99% Muslim. Mecca and Medina are in this country. Islam* enforced by law.

2. Aden. Settlement on coast of SW Arabis; captured by Turks 1538; ruled by Sultan of San'a since 17th c.; held by Brit. and governed as part of India 1839–1937; Brit. colony since 1937; part of Fed. of S. Arabia 1963; helped form People's Rep. of Southern Yemen 1967 (name changed 1970 to People's Dem. Rep. of Yemen), the latter with an area of ca. 130,540 sq. mi. united May 1990 with the Yemen Arab Rep. to form the Rep. of Yemen. CMS began work in mid-1880s, after Keith-Falconer (see above), but turned it over to the Ch. of Scot. a few yrs. later; Dan. Luth. Ch. entered 1904; Sudan Interior Miss. also did some work in Aden.

3. Had(h)ramaut. Coastal region of S. Arabia. Helped form People's Rep. of Southern Yemen 1967. See 2.

4. Yemen Arab Rep. (from Arab. al Yemen, “the right hand”; here refers to the direction of the land as one stands before the Kaaba*). Also known as North Yemen. Area: 77,200 sq. mi. Chiefly Muslim. The monarchy of the Mutawakelite (or Mutawakilite; derived from the Arab. phrase, “al Muta Wakil ala Allah”: “he who relies on God,” a title of its Imams) Kingdom of Yemen was founded ca. 897 AD; overthrown 1962 by rebels who proclaimed the Arab Rep. of Yemen; but continued (with Saudi Arab. support) by loyalists, also called royalists, till April 1970, when an agreement bet. the Yemen Arab Rep. and Saudi Arabia introduced royalists into the Y. A. R. govt., ending the kingdom; united May 1990 with the People's Dem. Rep. of Yemen to for the Rep. of Yemen.

5. State of Bahrain (Bahrein). Area: 258 sq. mi. Chiefly Muslim. Brit. protectorate 1861–1971; indep. emirate. The Arabian Miss. began work ca. 1892/93.

6. State of Kuwait (Kuweit; Koweit). Area: 6,532 sq. mi. Ca. 95% Muslim. Former sheikdom under Brit. protection, indep. emirate 1961. The Arab. Miss. (see 5) entered 1903 and est. a hosp. and med. miss. RCs est. bishopric 1954.

7. Sultanate of Oman (called Muscat and Oman till 1970). Area: 115,800 sq. mi. Chiefly Arab; ca. 99% Muslim. Angl. bp. T. V. French* began work in Muscat for CMS 1891.

8. State of Qatar (Katar). Area: 4,247 sq. mi. Largely Arab Muslim. Indep. emirate.

9. United Arab Emirates. Formed December 2, 1971, by 6 of the Trucial States (also called Trucial Oman, or Trucial Coast; “Trucial” refers to truces with Gt. Brit. in the 1800s): Dubai (Debai; Dibai), Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Sharjah, Umm al Qaiwain, and Ajman; Ras al Khaima joined February 1972. Mostly Muslim.

M. Parts of Afr. are often included in the Middle E. See Africa; Ethiopia. EL

See also Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, North American Diocese; Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, The, VII 14; Middle East General Mission; Middle East Lutheran Ministry.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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