Friday, February 8, 2013

First Week in Amman, Jordan

Today is Friday and in the Middle East this means it is the "Weekend" since the Muslims (who are the majority, except in Israel) take this day as their day of worship. The roads are pretty empty, stores are closed and the seminary here takes a break as well. If you want to reach your neighbors you can't offend them and today many churches will have services so that neighbors can come.
Saturday here is a regular weekday and so I will teach tomorrow from 9 am - 1:30 pm with just two 15 minute breaks. Four hours of classes a day can be energy consuming but of course I only have to actually speak for half that time since everything I say is translated into Arabic.
Tomorrow I will first speak in chapel at 8:15 am (on Wednesday the chaplain had a Jordanian "breakfast" for chapel time! [see the picture]) and then in the late afternoon I will head off to the International Church here in Amman to hear one of our DTS alumni, Jeffrey Townsend, preach. Sunday will be a "day off" here at JETS (Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary) since many Christian churches will have services, though often in the evenings since Sunday is a regular work day for most people. I will be preaching at the 1st Circle Church of the Nazarene (near the downtown of the Old City). This church is pastored by one of my first students that I taught here at JETS back in about 2003. Lo'ay and his wife Wafa (from Syria) are a wonderful couple that I enjoy fellowshipping with every time I come to Jordan. Their children Laith and Rula will be receiving some special treats I brought them from Texas!
In the past I have always visited Jordan (I think I've been in this country at least 11 different times) during the summer months (May to August) and so this is the first time I have been here in the winter and seen rain. In fact, on Wednesday it was foggy and rainy as I went for my daily walk.
On my walks this week I passed by a site I have visited in the past (none of my students here even knew that it was there even though it is just a 1/2 mile from JETS). It is a mosaic from the 6th Century. These days however, it is locked and the outside of the shelter is overflowing with trash. Can you imagine if in America we had a man-made relic that was 1,400 years old? We'd have it displayed is a modern building and charge an admission fee. Here in the Middle East there are so many ancient remains that most of them are not even properly preserved. But not everything here in Amman Jordan is ancient or rundown. I took a picture of a new mall that is being developed just a mile from where I am staying. They also have a great pedestrian mall with Starbucks just a half mile away, just a hundred yards from the Sixth Century mosaic floor (above). There is a real mixture here, ancient - modern, religious - secular, Muslim - Christian, etc. Jordan for the most part is a stable nation with the population not supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in the latest election and yet it is a monarch with a king who has almost absolute power (he can dissolve Parliament whenever he desires). Yet the people recognize that in many surrounding nations chaos reigns. I'd appreciate prayer as I seek to minister here. I need wisdom in what to say, what not to say, how to say what I need to say etc. The people who host me here are fabulous. I admire them for their commitment to this ministry here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Teaching in Jordan, 2013

I'm back in Jordan, teaching for 3 weeks at the Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary. I've been coming here since 2003 and it is thrilling for me each time I have the opportunity to teach our Arabic brothers and sisters (and they teach me lots too!).
This year I am teaching the Gospels and Acts course and I have 11 master's level students. They come from Jordan, Sudan, Egypt, Syria and Korea! It was exciting today to hear how each one is intimately involved in ministry even as they study here. I may be able to share, at least in general terms, some of their involvement in later blogs.
I left Texas on Saturday to fly to Tampa, Florida to speak twice at Bayside Community Church. They do post their sermons so if you are bored or intrigued or . . .  you can find the messages I preached at: (   OR On Sunday afternoon I left for the airport at 3 pm and arrived here in Amman, Jordan (via Atlanta and Paris) at the guest house on Tuesday morning at 1 am! Air France had some problems with the plane out of Paris and so I arrived about 4 hours later than expected. A quick sleep and then a cup of tea, chapel and class for 4 1/2 hours (9 am - 1:30 pm), lunch with JETS president Dr. Imad Shehadeh, an afternoon nap, dinner, some prep and now some blog time.
I think every Christian, if possible, should travel and experience "Church" in a different culture. This morning I sat and listened as Arabic voices loudly sang praises to our God. I prayed along with a brother and sister (though I couldn't understand their words except for just a few) but I knew they were praying in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. The devotional was kindly translated for me and it was a good challenge from Ezekiel 37. 
In the days ahead I hope to share more of what is happening here in Jordan and what the Lord is doing with, in, and through me these days.