Hashmite Kingdom of Jordan
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Jordan is a small Arab country of 89,000 sq km (34,000 sq miles) that lies between Saudi Arabia, Israel, Syria and Iraq. The country has significance to biblical scholars as the historic home of the Ammonites, Amorites, Edomites and Moabites. Throughout its history it has been conquered by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Hittites, Israelites, Persians and Romans. In the seventh century it was invaded by Arabs and subsequent Christian crusades sought to reclaim it. Much of Muslim history of Jordan has been as the result of the Ottoman Turks. The Turks were driven out during the First World War and the British installed Hashemite monarchy in 1921. Jordan became independent in 1946 with King Hussein reigning from 1952 until his death in 1999. The present government is a constitutional monarchy with two legislative bodies, the House of Notables and the House of Representatives. Because of its location in the Middle East Jordan must maintain a delicate balance among Israel, Palestine, Iraq, and other Middle East nations. Arab aid has been vital to the country’s development but the second Gulf War in 1991 overwhelmed the country. Also significant to Biblical scholars is the fact that the Jordan River Valley, the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee and Petra are all within present Jordanian borders.
Eighty percent of Jordan is desert so there is a high reliance on the service industries for economic prosperity. Ten percent of the economy is derived from agriculture. Only a small percentage of the religious population of Jordan is Christian, about 8%, with the remaining population being Sunni Muslim. The Jordanian Constitution recognizes Islam as the established religion yet forbids religious discrimination thus Christians in Jordan are probably better treated here than in most Muslim countries. However, foreigners who have attempted aggressive evangelism have been expelled.
Beginning in 1963 Evertt L. Hubbard of the American a cappella Churches of Christ went to the West Bank (then a part of Jordan) to work among the Arabs there. With the outbreak of war in 1967 and the occupation of the West Bank by Israel some Arab Christians migrated to Amman. However, they did not form a congregation there. Later Evertt relocated to Amman (1976-1979) and gathered the scattered Christians together into a congregation. From 1977-1980 Darrell Denman also worked in Amman and Zerka. While a few Christians are still to be found in Amman today the congregation did not survive. For some time Marion Aldridge conducted Bible correspondence work and made annual visits to Jordan. Nations University reports one student from Jordan currently pursuing online coursework. No American missionaries of the a cappella tradition are presently serving in Jordan.
Currently the American Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, through veteran missionaries and educators Harvey and Nancy Bacus, are undertaking to raise funds to establish a Christian Library in Amman, Jordan to provide Christians there with resources and a place to promote East/West understanding. The target date for opening the library is January 2006. For more information on this library see Social Service ministries, below.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
Ross Road Church of Christ
4920 Ross Road, Memphis, TN 38141
Institute for Christian Resources
P.O. Box 7494,
San Jose, CA 95150
Harvey and Nancy Bacus
204 North Moffet, Joplin, MO 64801
Telephone: (417) 781-6235