Remember reconciling Christianity in the Gulf
This text and podcast is the fourth of five reflective radio talks for Easter from Harry Hagopian, focusing on the presence, life and witness of the often-forgotten historic Christian communities across the Middle East. Today, he contrasts narrow stereotypes of the Gulf region with the reconciling presence of diverse Christian churches.
Listen to this Premier Christian Radio broadcast* here on the Ekklesia web site: www.ekklesia.co.uk/harryhagopian4.mp3
Read the full text:
Over the past three days, when talking about the reality and inheritance of indigenous Middle Eastern Christians today, I have painted a picture of communities struggling for both their lives and their livelihoods.
But our Christian faith does not stop with the darkness of Good Friday; rather, it is anchored in the coming light of Easter Sunday.
Relatively few people in Britain are aware of the sense of Christian renewal and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in the Arab Gulf region. For some, the Gulf conjures up tabloid images of sheikhs with oil, money, weapons and unfamiliar mores which together nourish many unhelpful stereotypes and prejudices.
Yet, in the tiny peninsula of Qatar, one also witnesses the growth of our Christian faith. I have seen this happen in Church City where the Orthodox and Catholics have already got their congregations teeming with expatriate believers who work in the region, and where the Anglicans are also building a church that will respond not only to their needs but to those of numerous other Protestant communities too.
Of course there are teething problems - whether maddening red tape or frustrating religious bigotry! But ever since the early days of our faith some two millennia ago, we Christians have confronted many hardships, and our abiding belief in the restorative love of the Risen Lord has brought about many miracles of healing and change.
By joining me and praying for those Gulf communities this Easter, you are sharing in this ministry of reconciliation.
(c) Harry Hagopian is a former executive secretary for the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and now an ecumenical, legal and political consultant for the Armenian Orthodox Church, as well as an independent inter-faith adviser for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. He contributes regularly to Ekklesia.
* These talks (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/tags/4840) are reproduced and podcasted by Ekklesia with the kind agreement of Premier Christian Radio (http://www.premier.org.uk/). Each one will be broadcast twice a day between 5-9 April 2010. Our thanks to Ian Turner and PCR for making them available.
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