Christian Missions in the Context of the Middle Eastern Mosaic of Peoples, Religions, and Geopolitics -- By: George W. Braswell, Jr.

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 11:1 (Fall 1993)
Article: Christian Missions in the Context of the Middle Eastern Mosaic of Peoples, Religions, and Geopolitics
Author: George W. Braswell, Jr.

Christian Missions in the Context of the Middle Eastern
Mosaic of Peoples, Religions, and Geopolitics

George W. Braswell, Jr.

Professor of Missions and World Religions
Convocation Address
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
January 15, 1991

Today, January 15, 1991, a day new beginnings in the life of our seminary. It is our fortieth year. It is also a day of paradox. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the advocate of nonviolence in the struggle for human rights, was born on this day. Today also is the day which the United Nations set forth to determine what force may be utilized to dislodge Iraq from Kuwait.

On August 2, 1990, an Iraqi army (of a nation of eighteen million) invaded a country of 900,000 Kuwaitis. It occupied it and claimed to have annexed it as its nineteenth province. Several years before this invasion, the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention planned a mission study of the Middle East for convention-wide emphasis. All mission study materials were sold out this past fall. Not only has Southern Baptist interest been focused on the Middle East, but global attention is fixated upon it. Millions of peoples’ lives are at stake bordering the boundaries of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait, as well as Jordan, Israel, and the far nations of the globe. A vast array of military personnel and weaponry is assembled in a rather small space where the potential for mass destruction of life, limb, and livelihood is horrendous.

The Middle East is both long and short in the memory and attention span of many peoples. It is often remembered and romanticized for its nomads like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, but quickly forgotten with its new nomads of Palestinians, a people displaced, disenchanted, and often despised, without homeland or hope. It is often remembered by one billion Muslims as a place where their prophet Muhammed ascended into heaven but quickly forgotten as an intended place for peace and prosperity. It is often remembered by one billion, two hundred million Christians as a holy land where an innocent babe was born in a cow stall, had no place to lay his head, died on a cross outside the city gate, and burst the tomb door wide open in resurrection, but quickly forgotten as the place where Jesus the Christ and Messiah spoke those words, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

The Middle East is known for its sacred dreams and visions, its sacred territories, and its sacred heritage. On this day, Jews rigorously pray before the wai...

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