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April 7th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

Sacred Spaces: Arabic Christians find a home in the U.S.

By Floyd Yarmuth, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Christians have been part of Middle Eastern culture for 2,000 years, but many people don’t realize that a small minority of Arabs are Christians.

Pastor Esper Ajaj of the Arabic Baptist Church in Washington said that people often assume he is Muslim because of his background and accent.

“I tell them that there are a lot of Christian people in the Middle East. In Egypt, there are 9 million Coptic Christians alone,” he said.

The Syrian-born pastor, an evangelical Christian, started his ministry in Washington in 1960.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Although most Syrian Christians are Greek Orthodox, he says, a minority of evangelicals exists in Syria. Ajaj left the country and moved to the United States to study and become a minister. There are no Christian seminaries in Syria. Even today, Syrian Greek Orthodox Christians must go to Greece to study.

Over the years, many Arab Christians have left their homelands to escape religious persecution as well as to find better economic opportunities, often settling in the United States. The fall of Iraq and the Arab Spring have had an impact in recent years, according to Albert Hickman of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.

“The Arab Spring has created uncertainty for Arab Christians,” Hickman says. “Many look at Iraq and see how Christians there have in some ways fared worse following the downfall of Saddam Hussein than while he was still in power; they wonder whether that will prove true in their home countries as well. The pressure Iraqi Christians have felt has led many to emigrate, and it is possible this pattern will repeat itself elsewhere.”

Ajaj said that the reason to come to the United States is simple freedom. “It’s a great commodity, freedom ... to say whatever you want, to believe whatever you want, and this is how God created man; he created him free.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Church • Faith Now • Sacred Spaces

soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Muneef

    Since the Arabs are Yemenites sourced from Yemen from the time of Ismael then the followers of Moses and Jesus must have originated from them;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adnan
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qahtanite
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghassanids

    As well history claims that the cause of Yemeni tribal migration was the destruction of the Ancient Marib Dam flooding to  beyond repairable to their lands and agriculture irrigation;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marib_Dam    

    April 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Ron Powell

      That's a fascinating read, Muneef. Thank you for sharing. It seems to me from my reading that the Assyrians are an extremely diverse people group. From what I have read, Assyrians are more genetically similar to Armenians than they are to Arabians, with a major distinction between the Akkadians and the Assyrians. The first people were Semitic-speakers from likely either the Levant or Arabia. The Assyrians, on the other hand, are a people of many different ethnic origins. Again, I find the whole matter complex and impossible to stake a position one way or another. From a practical point of view, I think that most people refer to people by how they self-identify, when it is reasonable to do so.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Muneef

      Thank you and Add this for your information

      You know what as it seems that in the end Moses (saw) has led the Twelve Tribes of Ishmael through the exudes from Egypt and not Israel....!? 

      “ And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of 12 rulers, and I will make them into a great nation. ”
      —Genesis 17:20

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishmael

      The 12 Tribes of Ishmael
      http://nabataea.net/12tribes.html

      April 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Muneef

      I admit that it was a tease only since the Quran clearly indicates that it was the children of Israel who were in the exodus led by Moses (saw).

      April 11, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  2. Muneef

    [And mention] when the angels said, "O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah ].3:45

    He will speak to the people in the cradle and in maturity and will be of the righteous."3:46

    She said, "My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?" [The angel] said, "Such is Allah ; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, 'Be,' and it is. 3:47

    And He will teach him writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel 3:48

    And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], 'Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah . And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah . And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers. 3:49

    And [I have come] confirming what was before me of the Torah and to make lawful for you some of what was forbidden to you. And I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear Allah and obey me. 3:50

    Indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is the straight path." 3:51

    http://quran.com/3
    ---
    As you can read he The Prophet & Messenger of GOD was given all the permission to do miraculous wonders of things by GOD the Creator of Universe and all Beings

    April 9, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  3. Ron Powell

    Not all Syriac and Maronite Lebanese Christians are comfortable identifying themselves as Arab Christians. The Coalition of American Assyrians and Maronites (CAAM), which includes seven Assyrian and Maronite Organizations,claims to represent over 2.2 million Assyrians and Maronites in the United States. Some Maronites claim to have traced their roots to Phoenicians, while some Syriac Christians believe that the Assyrians are not Arabs.

    Honestly, I have no idea if they are right; however, I just point out that this is a polarizing issue among Christians of Lebanese , Syrian, and Iraqi decent.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.
    Proven

    April 9, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Jesus

      You haven't proven anything except for the fact that you're a liar. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs! ..

      April 9, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  5. Muneef

    Find out the truth for your self;

    Kindly read to understand the difference of opinions we have among the Abrahimic followers;

    Islamic holy books

    Islam speaks of respecting all the previous scriptures in their original forms. Belief in all the revealed books is an article of faith in Islam and a Muslim must believe in all the scriptures to be a Muslim. The four books are the Tawrat, Zabur, Injil and Quran. The Torat was sent to Musa (Moses), the Zabur was sent to Dawood (David), the Injil was sent to Isa (Jesus) and the Qur'an was sent to Muhammad.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_holy_books
    --–
    What are the Tawrat, Zabur and Injil?

    http://www.injil.org/Kalimatullah/revelations.html
    ---

    In Islam's holy book, the Quran, Allah (God) denounces the concept of Trinity (Qur'an 4:171, 5:72-73, 112:1-4) as an over-reverence by Christians of God's Word, the prophet and messiah Jesus Christ son of the virgin Mary, while maintaining Jesus as one of the most important and respected prophets and Messengers of God, (2:136) primarily sent to prevent the Jews from changing the Torah, (61:6) and to refresh and reaffirm his original message as revealed to Moses and earlier New Testament prophets. The creation of Jesus is framed similar to the creation of Adam out of dust, but with Jesus' birth meaning his creation excludes male human intervention rather than creation completely without human participation (3:59). Belief in all of the aforementioned about Jesus as a prophet (5:78), as well as belief in the original gospel and Torah and belief in Jesus' virgin birth (3:45) are core criterion of being a Muslim and Quranic criterion for salvation in the hereafter along with belief in the Prophet Muhammad and all the prior prophets. In short God is seen as being both perfect and indivisible. He can therefore have no peer or equal. Jesus, being God's creation, can never be considered to be equal with God or a part of God. To do so is considered by Islam to be blasphemy. (112:3)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nontrinitarianism

    ---
    Read about ;
    Jesus in Islam
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_Islam

    April 8, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  6. Muneef

    Post for Godspeople at page 1...

    April 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  7. Nii

    REASON
    I an irrational believer rationalizing? I thought that was ur preserve? I was not asked whether I respect the fact that the earth is flat. I was asked whether I respected the VIEW that the Earth was flat. I only gave what a rational intelligent scientific answer ought to be. Disrespect is bad

    April 8, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    April 8, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      To clarify it changes otherwise intelligent and rational people into believing they can talk to an imaginary super friend.

      April 8, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things,
      Prayer changes things

      April 8, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things
      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things
      Prayer changes things

      April 8, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Jeeus

      .Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!".. ,

      April 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things. Proven once again by Jeeus, self appointed idiot to the blog

      April 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things. Proven once again by Jeeus, self appointed idiot to the blog"

      More lies and desperation proving my posts correct.

      April 8, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  9. Jesus is Lord

    HE IS RISEN !

    April 8, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • b4bigbang

      He is risen indeed!!

      April 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  10. H.F.Monteiro

    Leave like a human ,read Holy bible wipe out your sin ,peace be with you.Enjoy your short life on planet.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:20 am |
  11. Nii

    How do I do it? Judaism taught me to tell myself all the time that
    a)I love and fear God with all my life
    b)I love and respect myself
    c)I love and respect my neighbor as myself.
    d)my neighbor loves and respects me as himself
    e)because God loves me as Himself with all His Life.
    Goodnight.

    April 7, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  12. Nii

    When on a survey we usually work with illiterates and semi-literates who don't care if the eath was the shape of a pear or mango. They give us excellent observations however. It is respecting them that gives us their knowledge not name-calling.

    April 7, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Nii

      I love my neighbor as myself cos it helps me 2 think rationally n in an emotionally mature manner. It also helps me 2 behave ethically. I learnt this from de Bible n other Judaeo-Xtian literature as well as that of various religions including urs. Atheism reminds me people watch ur life not speech.

      April 7, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • rick

      you love your neighbor as yourself, but you want the gay ones to have less CIVIL rights?

      April 8, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • Nii

      Civil rights are not human rights. Also I do not judge non-christians unless they ask my opinion. If they are not being abused because they r gay and all other rights are respected fine by me. The rights of a married couple shud be respected. Its not everything we want that shud be given us.

      April 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  13. Nii

    A scientist doesnt spend his time shooting down subjective issues. We allow them. We debunk objective issues. I know de Earth is flat. U think its flat. Shud I insult u 4 holding that view and call u irrational, delusional n psychaitrically challenged. No. I ask ur reasons! I'll learn something new

    April 7, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  14. Nii

    Is the Bible wrong? Thats up for debate. Does its ideas when implemented work? Most certainly! I started testing two yeaars ago. Are u supposed to respect those ideas? It won't kill u! Are u supposed 2 believe them? Certainly not! Just know what is subjective n what is objective. Then u won't fight.

    April 7, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 7, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Jeeus

      *Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!" . ... .

      April 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  16. Nii

    In some calculations we take the Earth as flat.
    In others we consider its spherical nature. In yet others we take it as a circle. You cant interchange them. An idea is not wrong unless it is useless. That is why I will like u to let off some people's. I don't accept. I just respect the view.

    April 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • reason

      You are rationalizing. Obviously the Earth is not flat and you know exactly what is what is meant by that statement. It is absurd for any educated person to think the Earth is flat and the idea deserves no respect. It is totally irrational just like the organized religions of the world.

      April 8, 2012 at 7:41 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.