Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
“Shalom is the flower that blooms only on the tree of justice, planted near the waters of abundance, warmed by the light of truth and faithfulness.”
MIDDLE EAST FAITH, PEACE & DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
The Middle East is a complex region with a long history of great civilizations, rich cultures, and the interplay of three of the world great religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. What happens in the Middle East affects people all over the world in a way that is different than any other region. The relentless violence of the Syrian civil war, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the rise of religiously motivated terrorism are all painful reminders of how the region’s combustible mix of geopolitics, religion and oil can have a real impact on the global economy and world security.
However, despite the indisputable strategic importance of the Middle East, American churches have focused less attention on this region in their ministry outreach than other parts of the world such as Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Also, the foreign policies of the U.S. and other world powers have rarely placed a significant priority on the problems of indigenous Christians and have often deemed them expendable to larger and more pressing political, economic and security interests. Yet it is these Middle East Christians (whose theology espouses love, forgiveness, compassion and justice) that are well equipped to be the catalysts for peacemaking and transformational development that this region so desperately needs to move towards peace, prosperity and stability.
In order for Christians in the Middle East to realize their full potential as change-makers they will need significant support from other areas of the world (such as the U.S.) since their numbers have been steadily declining over the last century. For this to occur, more American Christians need to be better educated about Middle East affairs and then become champions for Middle East Christians in their role as ambassadors for Christ in their societies. In order to accomplish this goal, we established the Middle East Faith, Peace & Development Project and have been actively working for the last several years to bring together the love, talent and resources of those Christians committed to making a difference in this troubled area of the world.
We offer programs and initiatives in the the following areas:
Middle East Christian Engagement
In an effort to better educate Americans about the state of the church in the Middle East and challenges that indigenous Christians face in this volatile region, CFGE offers a series of presentations, and one-day seminars in partnership with churches, student ministries, and other organizations. These programs also provide practical recommendations and resources to help American Christians become champions for followers of Christ in the Middle East and support them in their efforts to be "salt and light" in their societies. Programs are offered at different times and locations throughout the U.S. depending on the interests and needs of co-sponsoring churches and ministries.
Christian Education and Leadership Development
Over the last several years, CFGE has been actively involved in promoting and raising financial support for Christian student ministries and theological seminaries in the Middle East and North Africa. These ministries and institutions are responsible for educating and training the next generations of Christian leaders and are critical for maintaining a strong and vibrant Christian presence in the Middle East. Our current and future programs will continue to advance their work through conference participation, networking, advocacy and fundraising campaigns.
Faith & Environmental Peacebuilding
One of the most promising areas of conflict resolution and reconciliation in the Middle East is interfaith environmental peacebuilding. Organizations like EcoPeace(formally Friends of the Earth Middle East) have been working to bring together Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli environmentalists to promote cooperative efforts to protect their shared environmental heritage. In particular, EcoPeace’s Jordan River Rehabilitation Project seeks to restore the ecological integrity and beauty of this river basin that provides essential water resources to Jordan, Israel, and Palestine and has rich symbolic value and importance to three of the world's major religions. CFGE is planning to partner with EcoPeace’s Jordan River-Faith Based Advocacy Program to create a 2-week Faith & Study Tour to Israel, Palestine and Jordan in the Fall of 2017 that will focus on: Environmental Peacebuilding in the Holy Land. Details on this program will be available soon on our website.
Faith and Social Entrepreneurship
One of the most serious problems confronting the Middle East today is the large number of unemployed young people between the ages of 18-25. According to a report issued by the International Labour Organization: the Middle East and North Africa regions continue to show by far the highest youth unemployment rates (28.2 and 30.5 per cent, respectively, in 2014) and rates have continued to worsen since 2012, particularly for young women. This high unemployment rate creates a host of problems when combined with deteriorating government services and social upheaval resulting from relentless conflicts and political instability in the region. What is desperately needed in the Middle East today (but often downplayed by the media) is major economic revitalization and the creation of thousands of new jobs.
CFGE believes that faith-based social entrepreneurship provides one of the best opportunities for job creation and equitable and sustainable economic development. Over the last three years, we have helped Christians in the Middle East learn more about social entrepreneurship so they can develop new enterprises that create not only jobs but also provide social and environmental benefits that will help all the people in their multi-faith communities. To learn more about our work in this area, please click on the links below:
What is Faith-Based Social Entrepreneurship?
Middle East Faith & Social Entrepreneurship Project
Resources & Tools for Social Entrepreneurship
CFGE is in the process of creating an online community for American and Middle Eastern Christian students through our Facebook page where they can meet and discuss common interests and organize advocacy and action campaigns around issues of concern. We plan to use this communication platform to develop a virtual exchange program that will allow fellow Christians to develop friendships, share their lives and develop empathy and trust.
FOSTERING CHRISTIAN GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT THROUGH INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION & LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT