Hungry Hearts in the Middle East
Meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ. (Colossians 4:3)
Sometimes the Lord opens unexpected doors. Institute for Creation Research events are usually held in the United States and Canada, but it appears God may be leading us beyond these borders. Last year, Dr. Randy Guliuzza spoke in South Korea, and the new edition of our DVD series Unlocking the Mysteries of Genesis has subtitles in Spanish, Chinese, and Korean.
Most recently, Dr. Paul Holritz of the National Theological College and Graduate School (NTCGS) in Lexington, North Carolina, invited ICR speakers to a conference in Amman, Jordan. Dr. Holritz had prayed about including creationist speakers at the conference since most of the students and even pastors at NTCGS’ Jordan campus knew little about biblical creation.
Our team believed the Lord wanted ICR to take advantage of this unique opportunity to train local pastors and, ultimately, to reach more people for Christ. “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). So in spite of the unrest in the Middle East, ICR CEO Dr. Henry Morris III agreed to go. His wife Jan and his assistant Michael Hansen joined him on the trip to Amman.
In Jordan, Dr. Morris faced a steady stream of questions throughout each day and encountered the kind of hungry hearts that he only occasionally witnesses in the U.S. The Jordanian Christian community was confused about basic Bible doctrine and teachings and had a “sad lack of science information.” Even the Christian school teachers were unaware of the teachings of biblical creation, using standard evolutionary textbooks. Many were steeped in false ideas but were ready to accept the truth of Scripture when they were taught.
Dr. Morris found himself on call every day, every hour, regardless of the location. Whether he was at conference presentations, in the midst of question and answer sessions, having a meal, traveling to and from venues, or visiting historical sites, Dr. Morris met people who eagerly wanted to know more about the biblical account of creation.
He spoke to the faculty and staff of a Baptist school, focusing on the incompatibility of evolution with both the Bible and science. Even though it was a Christian school, few of the teachers and students were evangelical Christians. At least half of both groups were members of the “majority religion” in Jordan, and only a small minority of the “Christians” would be considered evangelicals.
A biology teacher approached Dr. Morris after his presentation and inquired about carbon dating. Several of her students had raised technical questions during her classes, and she wasn’t sure how to answer them. Dr. Morris pointed her to ICR’s website as a resource for both herself and the students, many of whom are fluent in both Arabic and English. These Jordanian students—many who don’t fully understand science and some who are not followers of Christ—now know where to look for answers to their questions. Dr. Morris was able to encourage them to use the ICR website for their studies. Many were excited to know about That’s a Fact as well as the vast archives on ICR.org.
Dr. Morris also met with a local Jordanian creation scientist to answer questions and discuss future opportunities within the global creation science community. He also met with a prominent beekeeper—honey is a major product in the Middle East—who was interested in the research of ICR’s Dr. Jeffrey Tomkins on the honeybee genome. Dr. Morris received many requests to go back to Jordan, and to visit Egypt and Lebanon as well. Dr. Morris summed up the enthusiastic response from the Jordanian believers: “We had constant questions and constant delight from very eager listeners.”
Passionate Worship in Jordan and Beyond
One evening, Dr. Morris spoke to a church in the old part of the city of Amman. Many of the regular attendees were refugees from neighboring countries. One bilingual listener commented that she was captivated by Dr. Morris’ voice, appreciating both his professional skill and the powerful content of the message.
During their times of worship, Michael Hansen noticed the passion of the Jordanian believers. He said, “We could sense their heart for the Lord in their passionate singing—they love to sing!” One worship song stood out, with Arab men singing with power and joy: Jesus’ life is in me, that is my song of victory, Jesus’ life is in me, that is the assurance of victory, Jesus’ life is in me, Jesus’ life is in me (translated from Arabic). Dr. Morris said, “At the time, we couldn’t understand their words, but we could hear their hearts!”
Michael also said, “By taking this trip, ICR reached people from Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt, and neighboring areas. We defended the accuracy and authority of the Bible and clearly presented the gospel.”
Dr. Morris presented six formal sessions at the NTCGS two-day creation conference. His presentations covered topics that many believers—whether in the U.S. or overseas—wonder about, including:
- Is Earth Billions of Years Old or Was It Created Recently?
- Can Creation Itself Show the Divine Nature of the Creator?
- Did God Really Create in Seven Days?
- What Happened After the Garden of Eden?
- Is There Evidence for a Global Flood?
- What Do Fossils Tell Us?
In addition to the conference sessions, Dr. Morris also spoke during a Baptist high school chapel service. The topic was the scientific and biblical evidence for dinosaurs, which captured the interest of both students and faculty. Dr. Morris spent time at several churches, using scripture passages that ministered to many different nationalities. The messages contained an overview of the creation week, the significance of each word in the text, and the importance of creation to salvation.
Attendees all insisted to the ICR team that the presentations were much needed in the Middle Eastern Christian community. Many had never heard a solid, biblical perspective on origins and Genesis before. The listeners expressed appreciation for the messages over and over—“This is the first time I’ve heard anything like this. Thank you.”
One woman recorded the lectures on her phone to share with friends who couldn’t attend the conference. She said, “I don’t believe in coincidence. God made it possible for me to be here. I needed to hear these things. I want to hear much more.” Many of the Jordanian believers throughout the week responded to the messages with a similar reaction: “No one ever told us.”
Questions, Answers, and More Questions
One of the most encouraging segments of each teaching session was the Q&A time. The questions could have continued long into the night. Dr. Morris masterfully answered all of them with solid scientific and biblical evidence. Some of the questions he fielded included those that we often hear in the U.S.:
- Was there a gap of time between the first two verses of Genesis?
- Was there another world before creation?
- Did dinosaurs exist? How did they fit on Noah’s Ark?
- What were the languages of the Bible and what do [specific words] mean?
- What was the earth like before the Flood? How does the Flood fit with history and science?
- How do you define “evolution”?
- Are genetic mutations beneficial?
- Were the men of the Old Testament really hundreds of years old?
- Did the Garden of Eden exist? Where was the Garden of Eden? Where is it now?
- Did animals talk?
- How did evil originate?
- Did God actually create darkness, or is it merely the absence of light?
- Are angels real?
During the last evening, the floor was again opened for the final Q&A session. As in the previous sessions, the questions were almost endless. The team had to force a cut-off so they could end the conference. There is an obvious need there for further education in the truth of God’s Word and a correct understanding of science. Here are just a few of the questions addressed the final night:
- Was there one Ice Age or many ice ages, when was it, how long did it last, how did it fit in history?
- What are ICR’s main research projects today?
- How did Noah get all of the animals onto the Ark?
- How did he take care of them?
- Why don’t we find man buried in the fossil record?
Petra, “the Rock”
During their stay in Jordan, Dr. and Mrs. Morris and Michael Hansen visited the historical site known as Petra, “the rock.” From Amman, the group headed to Wadi Musa, the Dry Valley of Moses, before journeying on to stunning Petra. Throughout the seven-hour roundtrip, the group discussed faith, science, and the Creator, which was a great way to put into practice 1 Peter 3:15-16:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
Petra is a popular tourist attraction, and the ambitious Bedouins capitalize on the opportunity to sell their wares to the international crowds. When the ICR group stopped to look at an engraving, a young Bedouin girl selling postcards and handmade jewelry aggressively pursued Mrs. Morris. Instead of callously brushing off the girl, Mrs. Morris took the opportunity to talk with her, showing kindness and extending God’s grace to a darkened, veiled heart. During the conversation, she asked the girl, “Who do you worship? Allah? Or Jesus?”
In that moment, Mrs. Morris demonstrated the heart of ICR’s ministry. ICR is more than an organization that reports scientific facts and teaches biblical creation—ICR exists to point people to our Creator and Savior, the only God worthy of our worship.
The tour guide presented a thorough history of “the Jordan,” part of the biblical Holy Land. Abraham, Lot, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, and Jesus sojourned in Jordan. Several biblical nations once dwelt within the borders of Jordan: the Amorites, the Moabites, and the Edomites.
Only Israel has more biblical sites and associations than Jordan. Mount Nebo, Bethany, the place beyond the Jordan where John baptized Jesus, and even Lot’s Cave are found in Jordan.
History of Petra
Petra is strategically situated only a dozen miles from two vital trade routes that linked the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea, and Syria and the Red Sea. Ancient Petra grew in prominence over the centuries—levying tolls on caravans of silk from the Far East and frankincense and myrrh from southern Arabia. By around 200 B.C., the city of Petra had developed into a rich and powerful trade center. One can picture a line of ancient archers atop the red cliffs, poised to defend the narrow valley leading into Petra.
The rock-cut façade known as the Al Khazneh, or “the Treasury,” seems out of place in the rocky desert landscape of southern Jordan. The Corinthian columns reflect the western Hellenization of the area, but all the while Petra remained wholly Arab. The spectacular architecture was used as a setting for the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
The beauty of Petra is contrasted by the tainted history of the idolatrous pagans who lived in this rocky landscape. Tombs throughout Petra are marked with representations of the plethora of ancient gods and goddesses they worshipped.
The Need for Creation Resources
The Sunday before he returned home, Dr. Morris spoke to two more church congregations during morning and evening services, with a presentation titled “Three Worlds, Three Judgments, Three Demands” (see 2 Peter). The message resonated with the listeners, and they enthusiastically expressed their appreciation.
The team experienced delicious, traditional Jordanian meals shared by local believers who graciously demonstrated hospitality throughout the week. Mealtimes were also opportunities to discuss even more basic Bible questions.
Many attendees at each venue during the tour wanted ICR resources, even in English, and they implored Dr. Morris to make the resources available in Arabic. For information in English, he encouraged them to go to the ICR website. ICR also provided complimentary resources to several local school and college libraries:
- Creation Basics & Beyond
- The Book of Beginnings, Volumes 1-3
- Six Days of Creation
- Your Origins Matter
- 5 Reasons to Believe in Recent Creation
Dr. and Mrs. Morris and Michael were blessed during their stay to have a very gifted, godly man who interpreted for them. He also translated all of Dr. Morris’ PowerPoint presentations into Arabic so the people attending could understand the visuals that accompanied each message.
Our time in Jordan has convinced us that the need for creation truth persists throughout the world. The needs we witnessed and the requests we heard urge us to do more. Teach more, share more, give more. The chorus of “thank you” from Jordanian believers still rings in our ears, while other words—no one ever told us—will continue to haunt us and challenge us to do even more.
Cite this article: No Author. 2015. Hungry Hearts in the Middle East. Acts & Facts. 44 (5).