‘This Christmas season, we pray for unity’

(Photos: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
The Christmas season comes while we as Jordanians, Arabs and people of the world are in bad need of the happiness of the holidays, peace and goodwill.اضافة اعلان

Jesus, the Savior, was born a miraculous birth in a humble manger in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem. The angels welcomed his birth with the words, “Glory to God in the Highest. Peace on earth and goodwill to all.”

As Christians in Jordan, we hope that during this year we can focus on the theme of unity. Unity is needed on all fronts. It is sought by all people and communities because there is strength in unity. But for unity to succeed, compromise and coordination are necessary. Unity cannot happen in the absence of an overriding national identity. Unity cannot live alongside racism or sedition, or with conflict.

There is a huge gap between difference of opinion and conflict. One reflects a positive diversity that is like a synchronized orchestra or a beautiful garden where flowers of different colors and scent grow within the garden. Jordan’s history and heritage make up this beautiful piece of art that reflects a people proud of its civilization and history.

Our Arab countries have suffered from conflict, yet Jordan has remained an oasis of peace, tranquility and understanding. Despite the crises and conflicts all around us, much of them based on sectarianism and other problems, Jordan has and will remain a source of comfort and peace for refugees who sought its peaceful lands despite the fact that it has little resources for this big task.

It is true that at times we have people who deviate from the national goals. However, these religious khawarej (deviants) have been rejected by the unity of the people who come from different backgrounds, as we held on to our deep-rooted heritage as the shield against them. Jordan has its Amman Message; it has His Majesty King Abdullah who was bestowed the Templeton Prize as well as other similar awards due to his position on religious tolerance and respect for the others.

The Jordanian leadership has provided safety and security for all Christians, who can worship without interference. Jordan’s position has left a positive mark in Palestine, with His Majesty always lending solid support for the Palestinian cause, for ending the occupation and for the creation of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. In terms of Jerusalem, we reaffirm our support for the importance of the Hashemite custodianship for both Christian and Muslim holy places in the holy city.

On this blessed occasion, we as Evangelicals, pledge to His Majesty that we will be ambassadors of peace to all international organizations that we engage with, whether at the level of Jordan Evangelical Council or with individual Evangelical churches under our umbrella. We are proud of our strong cooperation with the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), a global organization that represents more than 600 million Evangelicals around the world.

The Jordan Evangelical Council was established in 2006 and includes Baptists, the Church of the Nazarene, Assemblies of God, Evangelical Free Church and Christian Missionary Alliance. Council church members are actives in education, health, refugees, prison service, senior citizen support, and orphans. Here in Jordan, there are nearly 10,000 worshipers who belong to the 70 local Evangelical churches located throughout the Kingdom. Some of these churches were established in the 1920s.

As proud Christian Arabs, our leaders aspire for unity. They have made excellent accomplishments in Jordan and Palestine, that have attracted many from around the world. They have established and run organizations such as the Lutheran-run Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem, the Anglican Hospitals in Gaza and Nablus, as well as schools belonging to the Latin, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, and Nazarene churches. They have established higher educational institutions, such as Bir Zeit and Bethlehem universities. The Bethlehem Bible College and Dar al Kalma University Jordan, Palestine and Galilee Bible Societies are all run by patriotic Christians of all denominations. 

Arab Christians, among them Evangelicals, have debunked Christian Zionist ideologies through projects such as Christ at the Checkpoint, Kairos Palestine and Al Sabeel, among others. The scout programs belonging to all churches and other educational, cultural and humanitarian organizations have had an important role in defending Arab rights and refusing colonialism, occupation and injustice.

Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical political leaders, business people, artists, and professionals have played a role in the fight for freedom and prosperity. All these organizations throughout the region are led by Christians representing these Christian families without discrimination or bias.

The Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, has also made important strides in unifying Christians, and his effort won him an international prize from the International Institution for the Unification of Orthodox Countries. Upon receiving this prize in Moscow on October 22, 2019, his Eminence quoted the Apostle John with this unifying verse: “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

We look to the Patriarch and to all our spiritual and national leaders to continue working for the unity of Christians. For our part, we commit to sincerely cooperate and coordinate with all in order to defend the rights of all Christians in our country, which reflects the spirit of Christmas of love, peace and goodwill between people.

We pray in this holiday season for peace, security and for the end of the pandemic. We hope for a New Year full of goodwill to all and wishing our country under the leadership of our beloved King and his Crown Prince progress and prosperity.

Merry Christmas to Jordan and to our beloved people!

The writer is head of the Jordan Evangelical Council.

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