Christians in the West sometimes find it easy to dismiss the Middle East. Some prefer to direct their ministry resources elsewhere in the world, to places where people have been receiving the gospel with more openness. However, God has made it clear that the Middle East has been and continues to be part of His plan. If He has not abandoned it, how can we?
Four thousand years ago, God called Abram to leave Ur—located in modern-day Iraq—and make the more than 1,000-mile journey to Canaan, later known as Israel. And though Israel is the Promised Land, God's people spent significant periods of time in other locations throughout the Middle East: Abraham in Egypt, the Hebrews in Egypt for 400 years, the Hebrews in the desert for 40 years, the people of Judah exiled to Babylon for 70 years, and even the young Jesus in Egypt for two years.
More than any other place in the world, throughout history the Middle East has stood as the crossroads for conquering armies and traveling merchants to enter Africa, Asia, and Europe. Where else could God's message of salvation reach such a wide variety of people? Throughout Old Testament history, Israel's location at the crossroads of three continents allowed the nation to be a witness to the foreign travelers passing through their land. Such a prime location also provided Jesus's disciples direct routes to take the gospel beyond "Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8 NIV).
With conflicts and opportunities, past and present, rarely has much time gone by when the Middle East has not been newsworthy. The Middle East will continue to hold a significant place in the world. The Bible teaches that when Jesus returns to earth, He will rule His millennial kingdom from Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:3). A place cannot get much more significant than that!
Insight for Living has made a commitment to working in the Middle East because we recognize its people's need of the gospel. With Charlie Costa leading our ministry efforts there, we have committed to proclaiming the good news of salvation in that region of the world. So rather than dismissing the Middle East, let's instead redouble our commitment—in prayer, in giving, and in missions—to making the name of Christ known in every part of His world.
John Adair received his master of theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, where he also completed his Ph.D. in Historical Theology. He served for seven years as a writer in the Creative Ministries Department of Insight for Living Ministries. John and his wife, Laura, have three children.
More articles by John Adair