Life with God: Being Christian in the Middle East

Although the Middle East has been dominated by believers of the Islamic faith for centuries, Christianity continues to be a visible, audible presence in the region. And rightfully so, for it is the birthplace of one of the world’s biggest religions.

The faithful, whether they’re from a Catholic church in Iraq or a non-denominational church in Dubai, not only preach and live the word of God in the Middle East, but also live in harmony with Islamic and Jewish people.

Take a peek at the colorful and blessed lives of Christians in the Middle East – a place rife with culture and diversity.

High Five

As of 2014, 5% of the total population in the Middle East has been comprised of Christians. While definitely considered as low, making the denomination considered as a minority, if you see it in actual numbers instead of the percentage that would be 148.9 million people – more than enough to be a big country of its own, and definitely more than enough to be an influence and make a change.

By the Percentages

Christians all over the Middle East are spread in different countries in small yet varying numbers, save Lebanon, a predominantly Christian country which has 31-41% of the population under the religion.

In Iraq, a country torn by the unwelcome occupations and the threat of terror groups, Christians make up less than 1% of the population. Same goes with the West Bank in Gaza Strip, which has a less than 2% Christian population because of the conflict with Israel. On the other hand, Syria, despite the violence, retains a Christian population of 5-9%.

Other Middle East countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates have Christian populations that play between 5-20%.

Beyond the Numbers

However, to truly appreciate the presence of Christianity in the Middle East, one should not just rely on statistics, as there is more to a faith than the number of its followers.

How they live and what they have done, especially in respect to the fact that they are a minority, that they are surrounded by people of different faith than them.

Aside from collaborating with different Christian denominations within the city, Christians have not only been able to live in harmony with followers of other faiths, especially Islam, but also have helped people who are in need. Take Mission to Seafarers for example, a charity organization that gives aid to troubled seafarers regardless of race and religion – a testimony of how God’s universal love should be. Because of the good work they have been doing, they have been receiving funding and support from many organizations with different backgrounds, with most of it coming from Muslim Emiratis.

Another noteworthy characteristic of Christianity in Dubai is in its unity. Although churches are built in divided plots of land and have their entrances facing away from one another, they are becoming more and more united and have begun working with people from other religions to make Dubai a better city.

Christianity may be the biggest religion in the world, but definitely not in the Middle East. However, it’s not always the numbers that matter. After all, the faith is more than just casting nets; it’s also about being the light and salt of the world.

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