Relaymedia

Finding Christ in the Saudi Arabian Kingdom

Dec 17, 2002 11:28 AM EST

SAUDI ARABIA – The Gospel penetrates through the rigid boundaries of the Saudi Arabian Kingdom, as marginal Filipino workers lead house fellowships and churches.

The Saudi Arabian government works extensively to keep the Bible from crossing through its borders. Its unbending governmental regulations are designed to keep its Muslim population “untainted” by Christian influences. Customs officers comb suitcases, confiscating everything from crosses to Christmas cards. Online, more than 2,000 Internet sites are blocked by Saudi authorities for their religious content, and “Jesus” is a featured word in the country’s surveillance system that monitors all telephone and e-mail messages.

Nonetheless, despite of such regulations, many Muslims open their hearts to plant the seed of the Word. Foreign workers to the Kingdom report encountering Muslims who wish to learn more about Jesus after dreaming about him.

Among them is a zealous Muslim who had never touched a bible in his youth because of his opposition to Christianity. One day however, he prayed to Jesus for help in time of desperation, and felt the miracle of God answering his situation within days. He recalled wanting to read the bible after Jesus appeared in his dream the second time. "After one year of reading the Bible in an honest way, I found my way to the Lord Jesus Christ, and I found out how very much God loves me," He said.

Though 1 million of the country’s 7 million foreign workers are Christians, they are prohibited from holding a public worship gathering. Private worships are legal to some degree; Private worship is supposed to be permitted, but the religious police officer offers five years’ salary as bounty to anyone who exposes a house church. In light of these restrictions and dangers, many Filipinos who enter the kingdom as nominal Catholics, lead house fellowships and become vibrant witnesses for Christ.

At a meeting of 120 Filipinos who were leading house fellowships in Saudi Arabia - with a total membership of 10,000 -- only three acknowledged that they had known Christ personally before entering the country. "[They] just had the Scriptures, that's all," said the Western observer. "The first time they read through the book of Acts, they just assumed the same things would happen to them - they would be beaten, people might suffer and die, but there would be miracles, and it would be infectious."

By Paulina C.