Audio Middle East

Interview: Pilgrim Radio and the Christians of the Gulf

Pilgrim Radio

A little while back I was interviewed by Pilgrim Radio about my Christianity Today article on the growth of Christianity in the Arabian Peninsula.

Pilgrim Radio is a Christian non-commercial FM broadcasting network reaching the American West from Colorado to California. The mission is ‘to advance a program of Christian education using an artful blend of music and Scripture, stimulating instruction, interesting guests, and great books, all done in the public interest.’

The website carries only live content, so the director was kind enough to share the audio file with me. Please click on the player below if you’d like to listen in on the 27 minute show, on the His People program.

Coincidentally, the live program tonight (March 2) is an interview with Nicole Walters on worshiping with the Copts in Egypt.

Please click here to read the original article at Christianity Today, and here for a follow up interview CT did for a behind the scenes perspective. Click here for photos I took of the many churches being built in the United Arab Emirates.

Here and here you can read related stories from my trip at Lapido Media, about an English priest in Abu Dhabi engaging a Hack-a-Thon to strengthen migrant rights, and a missionary hospital in al-Ain that won the royal goodwill to make all the above possible.

Thanks for your interest, and I hope you enjoy.

When writing an article, though my name is given it is nice to stay in the background and let my sources tell the story. It is different getting used to radio, when the voice is mine. But this was my second effort (click here for the first — on ISIS and Christian response for the Dan Darling podcast), so perhaps more opportunities will come.

Christianity Today Middle East Published Articles

Why Christianity is Surging in the Heart of Islam

Public baptism service in the Gulf, in front of Dubai's Burj al-Arab. Photo courtesy of Fellowship of the Emirates.
Public baptism service in the Gulf, in front of Dubai’s Burj al-Arab. Photo courtesy of Fellowship of the Emirates.

My article for Christianity Today was published September 11, 2015. Here is an excerpt:

Espada, an architect, is one of the millions of foreign workers transforming the former desert oasis into a global center for business and travel. The UAE’s Dubai is the fifth-fastest-growing city in the world; its population is now more than 80 percent migrant.

The great majority of migrant workers in the region come from India and Southeast Asia, sometimes suffering exploitation in labor camps to send a collective $100 billion back home. As an American, Espada is unusual.

But as a Christian, he is not. Today the Pew Research Center numbers Christians in the Arabian Peninsula at 2.3 million—more Christians than nearly 100 countries can claim. The Gulf Christian Fellowship, an umbrella group, estimates 3.5 million.

These migrants bring the UAE’s Christian population to 13 percent, according to Pew. Among other Gulf states, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar are each about 14 percent Christian, while Oman is about 6 percent. Even Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest cities (Mecca and Medina), is 4 percent Christian when migrants are counted.

Together, they represent the largest Christian community in the Middle East outside of Egypt. But their experiences vary considerably.

In Bahrain and Kuwait, Muslims can enter church compounds. In Qatar, guards allow only foreigners. Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti (the nation’s highest official of religious law) has called for all churches in the peninsula to be destroyed.

Surprising to many observers is how many of these churches there are.

Please click here to read the full article at Christianity Today. Next post I’ll share some photos of church buildings.