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UAE 2011

Undisclosed Location November 9-18, 2011

The team will take part in a conference the first weekend that is led by Darren Carlson. The rest of the week will be spent meeting with pastors and doing pastoral training in the evening.

Follow along as teachers in the field offer their experiences as they share theological training with local church leaders.

Field Notes   UAE 2011

Nov  16th,  2011Last Day

Yesterday we had our morning free before we headed over to the hospital to meet with David Printy, who serves as the CEO here.  He has an amazing story of God's grace in His life and his testimony to the region is powerful!  The hour we had was full of wisdom and insight.  We prayed and went out seperate ways.  For those who are reading this - the hospital is looking for doctors and nurses to come and serve with them.

Last night we went out into the desert to ride ATV's and share a meal together.  We were hosted by a Muslim woman who owned the place we went to.  I (Darren) reflected that it was the first time I had sat down for an extended conversation over dinner with a traditional Muslim woman.  We had a wonderful time.

Today we are cleaning the house we have been staying at and then head up to Dubai to meet with Mack Stiles and John Folmar.  We are expecting a good time of fellowship before we head to the airport and home to our wives and kids.

Continue to pray for us and our families as we begin our journey home.  It is a 15 hr flight from here to Atlanta!

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Nov  15th,  2011Last Night to Teach

Tonight concludes our time of teaching.  Over the last three days we have been meeting with Christians at the hospital and have been able to cover basic doctrine.  We are thankful for the opportunity to teach and learn about the lives of those in the classes.  Many have encouraging stories of faith and sacrifice.  Matt is going to take the whole group and teach on the doctrines of Sin and the Work of Christ - a good ending to the week.  

Tomorrow we will be spending the day with some of the local Christian Leaders in the desert.  We are really looking forward to being with them.  Thursday we head home, but not before stopping to meeting with John Folmar (UCCD) and Mack Stiles (IV).

It is apparent that Christian organizations are allowed in the country because of this hospital. Churches are given land.  Pastors can have a work visa without too many complications.  The reason: three people came to this country in the 60's before they discovered oil and served the people by providing medical care.  The care transformed the area and the hospital was given favored status by the leaders.  

Just an interesting side note.  We were able to spend the day talking to man who had lived in Saudi has a driver.  He was a Christian and tried to be faithful.  Despite his presence, along with many others, we classify Saudi as "unreached."  This, coupled with the fact we classify UAE as unreached even though the hospital is a prominent fixture in the country leads me to believe that we may need to rework our definitions.

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Nov  13th,  2011Visiting Oman, Bible Study on Steriods

We woke up this morning and headed to Oman for the day to visit a friend of Trey.  We crossed the border and then drove 45 minutes to the border station to get our passport stamp.  We had to get it or UAE would not have let us back into the country.

We arrived at a village of 500 people at the foothills of some mountains to a warm greeting.  The man told us how he had been born at the Oasis Hospital along with everyone in his village.  He took us over the mountains to the old village where his people last lived in the 50's.  To think, there are probably only 10 Americans that had ever seen this place.  The old village was beatiful, lush with green trees that we had never seens before (expect the palm trees).  This was an Oasis in the mountains in the middle of the desert.

This village would be considered unreached.  Yet, all of them were born in the Christian hospital and were given an opportunity to hear the gospel and have a Bible.  Are they really "unreached?"  Trey was able to befriend this man because his Arabic is so good - a testimony to needing to learn the local language even if you don't need it to function in the culture.

At night we began the Bible studies on the Doctrine of Scripture.  Matt taught one group while Collin and Ben taught the other.  About 25 people came.  One of us commented how they felt it was a like a small group on steriods.  Not only were we going through doctrine, but doing so with people from a different culture.  But not only were we teaching in a different culture, but different cultures were represented.  And not only that, but different economic and education backgrounds and varying degrees of maturity in Christ were on full display.  What a challenge!  On other TLI trips, when you teach in country you tend to be teaching people from the country.  Not here.

Pray for us.

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Nov  12th,  2011The Canon of Scripture

This morning Darren, Ben and Collin each spoke on the different issues related to Canon.  Darren covered the Old Testament, Ben covered the 1st century writer's self-understanding of what they were writing and Collin covered the NT and early Christianity.  About 50 people came, including our new friends from UCCD.  After lunch we took time for a Q & A, which revealed some of the issues  and criticism facing the people here.

At night we had dinner with the Trey and Jesse Hulsey and Dave and Elizabeth Printy.  We had a wonderful time.  Small world - Trey's sister who was with us went to college with someone Darren coached in high school in Illinois.  

We have gotten to know Trey over the last few days.  He is a great missionary.  To live in UAE you certainly do not need to know Arabic.  But Trey has decided to learn it and in doing so has opened up so many doors to friendships with people in the region.  In contrast, missionaries and Christian leaders who do not know Arabic do not nearly have as much impact on local people.

Dave and Elizabeth had very successful careers in the US.  As they hit the age people around them were retiring, they decided to come to UAE.  Dave was an administrator for hospitals and health care systems, working with Harvard Business Review, serving on the RNC national committee and helping some Christian universities.  Elizabeth was a prominent opera singer and had just started teaching at Harvard when they had a dramatic shift in their life and moved to UAE so Dave could oversee the hospital here in Al Alin.  Talk about a clear calling!

The hospital here sees 18,000 people a month, almost all of whom are Muslim.  Before the hospital started in the 70's, over 50% of pregnancies ended in the death of the child.  One of the first births was a baby that grew into a man who is now the President of UAE.  Because of this the hospital has a favored status.  They were just given millions of dollars to build a new hospital!  The hospital does not only care for physical needs, but believe God has called them to care for every patient's spiritual needs as well.  Every patient is told that they are being cared for because the people who serve them are Christians, that they love them and that God loves them.  It is an entry point into more significant conversations.

Tomorrow we are going to visit Oman and have lunch with a friend of Trey.  It will be the first time some of us have been in the house of an Arab Muslim.  At night we will be teaching.  Thanks for praying.

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Nov  11th,  2011Diversity

We woke up this morning a little tired and headed to United Christian Church of Dubai.  I don't think anyone of us has been to a more diverse church.  There were over 40 countries represented in a congregation of 400 members.  It was wonderful to sing with them and hear God's word preached.  An Indian brother who is a pastoral intern preached a WONDERFUL sermon on Rahab.  We were blessed.

It was interesting to see that all the churches were given a compound for all the buildings to be in.  There are 10 church buildings and almost 100 congregations meeting there.  It was originally built for outside of Dubai, but as the city has expanded it has gotten closer to the city center.

We headed over to John (the Senior Pastor) and Keri Folmar's house for lunch where we got to spend time with the elders and a few church members.  There were people there from Ghana, Scotland, Iran, England, India, Belarus and Ireland to go with a few Americans.  It was a wonderful time of fellowship.

Eventually we headed down to Al Lin, which is right on the border of Oman.  Try Hulsey, the Spiritual Life Director at the Hospital we are partnering with took us out to dinner.  Again, a wonderful time.  

Some interesting tidbits:

  • If you are from the Emirates, you can make $20,000 month a cook in a small diner or as a police officer at the age of 18.  This is just a low-level job.  This of course causes problems related to motivation.
  • We saw some empty high rise hotels that were closed due to the economic downturn.  When we asked about them we were told that the owners purposefully closed it in order to keep the prices up in their other hotels (ie they could afford to close an entire hotel!).
  • Emirate men and women do not talk to each other.  To get around it boys will follow the girls in the malls in groups and then yell out their cell phone numbers in the hopes the girls will call.
  • The hospital has won a lot of favor with the rulers here.  Many of them were born at this hospital.

Tomorrow we being teaching.  Pray.

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