One of the things that strike any casual observer of the Middle East is that it is very young.
The median age can be as low as 15! This means that most of the population of the country is at school or university, or at least in that age bracket. In Jordan, the youth are very educated, both men and women. There are thousands of taxi drivers, retails sales people, and factory workers with degrees, even masters and doctorates! There are not a lot of opportunities for qualified employment here, but certainly a lot of people with pieces of paper.
Islam in a strange force in the Middle East. It is everywhere you look. The call to prayer can be heard on every street in the country. A casual glance in any direction reviles iid lights, prayer mats, minarets, quranic calligraphy and Islamic advertisements. You can’t study the culture or politics or any other aspect of life without discovering Islam at the centre. At the youth, especially the university educated are central in the growing influence of Islam over yet more of life. And yet at the same time, secularism, pluralism, materialism, western culture and norms are influencing more of society. Even as Islam grows more powerful, more and more people exchange Allah for gold, for money, for family, for career for pleasure and for the other idols of materialism.
Rather than these competing ideas reaching an equilibrium, they are both getting stronger, both becoming more militant, aggressive and demanding. The tension between the factions seems to be growing and growing. The only thing that is holding society together is the large number of factions in the middle. Not many are either Islamic or Atheists Militants. The Islamists who are modern – at least in certain aspects of their thinking; and the Nominal Muslims who approve of many conservative values hold the middle ground.
In many ways the Middle East needs revolution. But not the revolution of either the Islamists or the Atheists. Nor the compromises of those in the middle. The Middle East does not need democracy but Monarchy – the Monarchy of Jesus as their Lord. Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God as something mysterious. No one knows where it comes from, or how it grows. At present, Jesus is not on the minds of many in the Middle East, because no one has bothered to tell them. There are a lot of young people with hopes and dreams, who are increasingly angry and frustrated with the lot life has dealt them. Pray that many would faithfully proclaim the gospel to those without hope, free those held captive by deception, and bring rebels and revolutionaries to bow the knee to our Lord and Saviour.
Even as you read this, in some parts of the Middle East, more and more people have turned to Jesus. It hardly attracts much attention on AlJazeera, but it is there, mostly under the surface. It is probably strongest in Iran – Ironically the country engaged in Islamic Revolution for the longest. Jesus has not abandoned the lands that first heard the gospel proclaimed 2000 years ago. Today, there is a growing Biblical church in the region. Pray for teachers, pasters and elders to be raised up, trained and to equip God’s people for ministry. Pray that God’s word would flourish in his church.