Introduction / History
Have you ever heard of the phrase "jumping out of the frying pan into the fire?" In 1948 and 1967 many Palestinians fled the turmoil and violence in Palestine looking for a peaceful place to work and to raise their families. Some came to the Yemen, a poor country at the base of the Arabian Peninsula. Since 2014 a bloody civil war has been raging across Yemen. Over 100,000 have died and four million displaced. The one main faction fighting for control are the Sunni government forces backed by Saudi Arabia. The other primary group in the war are the Shia Houthi rebels back by Iran. Yemen has become a "proxy war" between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia with the Yemeni people caught in the middle. Millions of children suffer malnutrition according to the United Nations. At the time of this writing (2021), the end of the war is not in sight.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Even before the civil war, Yemen was an impoverished country. Unlike many Middle Eastern nations, it has no oil or natural gas resources. Also, much of the nation's water and land goes to the cultivation of khat or qat, a plant that is a stimulant. Khat is chewed by the majority of the population. Instead of growing grains, fruit and vegetables that could feed the Yemeni people, farmers devote much of their land and water to khat. Since Khat addiction is rare in the West, there has been little scientific research on how khat affects the brain and body.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Before the war many Palestinians held middle class positions in Yemeni society. Palestinians are better educated than the typical person in Yemen. Many Palestinians speak English and have college degrees which allows them to work in schools, finance, trade, and tourism. Since 2014 the Palestinians have seen their jobs disappear and homes demolished. Some have chosen to leave Yemen while others are waiting for the civil war to end so they can begin living a normal life again.
Most Palestinians living in Yemen are Sunni, the largest branch of Islam. A tiny group call themselves Christians. Sunnis try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Muhammad. Sunnis believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols.
What Are Their Needs?
The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah
All the residents of Yemen including the Palestinians need peace and a stable, just government. The many factions of the civil war need to put down their weapons and work together. The Palestinians living in Yemen may not ever have heard a clear presentation of the gospel. Isa or Jesus is much more than the human prophet that he is deemed to be in Islam. The Palestinians in Yemen would benefit from medical teams of believers coming to help them and showing them the love of Christ. Business experts could come and help establish companies with loans and advice.
Pray for a peaceful and just settlement to the Yemeni civil war. Ask the Lord to raise up a Disciple Making Movement among the Palestinians in Yemen in this decade. Pray the Holy Spirit produces a deep hunger for spiritual things among Palestinians in Yemen. Pray that Palestinians would tune into Christian TV and radio programs.
Pray that Palestinian parents in Yemen would be able to provide adequately for their children
Scripture Prayers for the Arab, Palestinian in Yemen.