A breakthrough meeting in the Arabian Peninsula came and went with hardly any notice. A delegation from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom recently met for the first time ever with Saudi Arabia’s Religious Police. In a country known for its persecution of Christians, this was a huge step.
Pierre Houssney of Horizons International says it means things are changing. “We’ve been seeing a lot of Saudis that have been committing their lives to the Lord in recent years. A high number of them are open to the Gospel to a degree that they don’t even seem like Saudis.
“But, they are definitely indicators of their country and the way that their country is going, so it’s a very, very exciting time for the Gospel in Saudi Arabia.” The Crown Prince is openly pushing for reform, which includes having the Religious Police ‘reassess’ their methods. To that, Houssney says this:
“It is undeniable that there is a systematic effort to liberalize Saudi Arabia and open it up to the rest of the world.”
In April, Mohammad bin Salman – Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince – called for reforms to the Hadith, a collection of sayings from the Islamic prophet, Muhammed.
While changes like these are historic steps toward democracy, Saudi Arabia is still far from friendly to those who follow Christ. “There is still a lot of radicalism in Saudi Arabia,” Houssney notes. “Many believers have been disowned by their families.
According to Open Doors’ World Watch List, Saudi Arabia is the world’s 12th worst place to be a Christian. People who convert to Christianity face a lot of pressure, especially if they hail from a Muslim background. Please ask the Lord to strengthen and encourage Saudi believers.
Although Horizons doesn’t have any on-the-ground ministry in Saudi Arabia, Houssney says they form relationships with Saudi Christ-followers through an annual ministry retreat for Gulf Arabs. Between 45 and 50 Muslim-background believers attend the annual conference, and roughly half are Saudis.
“It’s really picking up, and we have seen them reaching out to their families – mostly via social media – and we’ve seen people coming to Christ ‘left and right’ among the Saudis.”
Source: Mission Network News