Introduction / History
The country of Jordan, which is about the size of the state of Indiana, is mostly covered with desert which can support only a few Bedouin nomads. Thus the majority of its people have settled in the northern highlands, where greater rainfall can support agriculture. The capital, Amman, is the largest city, and offers almost all Western conveniences, products, restaurants, and services.
Jordan is at the crossroads of the Middle East and has served to connect Asia, Africa, and Europe as a conduit for trade and communications from ancient times until now. In 1920, Jordan was established under the name Transjordan as a British mandate, and Abdullah I was made king. Jordan was granted independence from the British in 1946, when the name of the country was officially changed to The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. King Hussein ruled from 1953 until his death in February of 1999. His eldest son, King Abdullah II assumed the throne.
In 1948, thousands of Palestinians were displaced from their homelands and became refugees in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. In the Six-Day War of 1967, Jordan lost the West Bank, which resulted in the displacement of large numbers of these refugees into Jordan, on the east side of the Jordan River. Today more than half of the total population of Jordan is Palestinian, many as refugees. Almost 300,000 are living in ten main camps, and the rest have moved into villages and cities. Most have the rights of Jordanian citizenship, and little distinction is made between them and native Jordanian Arabs.
What are their lives like?
The climate of Jordan is very different, depending on where you live. The temperature in the Jordan Valley can be very hot in summer, while the capital city of Amman may get a small amount of snow in the winter. The plateau areas are dry and warm. The desert experiences an extreme change of all temperatures.
In the villages, the Jordanian Arabs are usually hospitable and friendly. It is common for them to welcome traveling strangers into their homes. A woman's public presence is more accepted than in other Arab countries. However, restaurants may still only welcome men or show the women to a "family room," where ladies and children are allowed.
Education of children begins at five years old and is free. There is a secondary school system for both boys and girls. The brightest students attend one of three Jordanian universities or study abroad.
The economy is centered around the production of phosphates, fertilizers, agricultural products, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals.
What are their beliefs?
The state religion in Jordan is Islam. Nearly all of Jordanians are Muslim. The great majority of Arabs practice Sunni Islam. Shi'ites living in the East make up the remainder. Christians account for a small percentage of the population, but the largest churches are Orthodox and not evangelical. There are also a few small Muslim groups who desire to see a more extreme Islamic government. The Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood is gaining support in Jordan. This is an illegal political organization who are known for terrorist actions and violence against Christians.
What are their needs?
There are a few Christian radio and TV broadcasts available. A Muslim who professes faith in Jesus can lose his family, his honor, his job, or even his life. Evangelism among the Jordanian Arab is challenging due to strong law, religion, social customs and tight family ties.
A few Jordanian Arabs attending a church service are tolerated, but when the number increases, they run the risk of being questioned by police. This discourages them. Small group meetings also arouse suspicion. Some Christians are willing to take that risk, however, for the sake of receiving teaching and having fellowship.
There are about 70 evangelical churches in Jordan, located mainly in Amman and larger cities. There is a great need for church planting outside of the cities in the rural areas.
The Jordanian Arabs are a ripe harvest field in the Kingdom of God.
* Pray for the work among other unreached peoples living in Jordan- the Egyptian and Iraqi Arabs.
* Ask God to protect the small number of evangelical believers and help them to grow strong in Him.
* Pray that Jordanian Arab Christians would be willing to sacrifice their time, and even their lives, to bring the Gospel to neighboring countries.