, MENA staff
Eleven new believers were baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church during two baptismal services conducted at a major camp meeting of more than 1,300 people in the United Arab Emirates.
The number baptized at the third annual Gulf Field Camp Meeting in Ras Al Khaimah may seem small compared to those baptized in other regions of the world, but it is something of an achievement and a reason to praise the Lord in the Gulf region, where evangelism is difficult, church leaders said.
Adventist membership in the church’s Gulf Field is made up of mainly expatriates from various parts of the world who are in the region for work or other business. All 11 new members baptized during the Sept. 23-26 camp meeting are expatriate workers.
“Foreign workers face tremendous pressure in the Gulf countries to have to work on Sabbath,” said Homer Trecartin, president of the Middle East and North Africa Union, whose territory includes the Gulf Field. “So for them to take a stand like this is very significant. For some of them it could mean losing their jobs and being sent home.”
Lee Venden, the main speaker of the camp meeting, challenged Adventists in the Middle East to give their all to God and to have a deeper relationship with Him.
“God needs you. God wants to be friends with you. Jesus wants to be our Friend,” said Venden, a pastor with the Arizona Conference in the United States. “He wants to spend time with us. Jesus is standing knocking at the doors of our hearts, waiting for us to open our hearts for Him to come into our lives and dine with us.”
Even though the Gulf region has had Adventist believers since the mid-1980s, the local church was not organized enough to join other parts of the world church in holding annual camp meetings until relatively recently. Small camp meetings were organized in Manama, Bahrain, in 2007 and in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, in 2010. The Gulf Field, formed in 2011, organized the first Gulf-wide camp meeting in 2013. U.S. evangelist Mark Finley spoke at last year’s gathering.
In addition to learning how to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus, this year’s camp meeting attendees studied biblical ways of resolving conflict through a series of seminars by Charles Brown, a pastor and certified Christian conciliator.
“We are committed to nurturing the lives of our members here in the Gulf, not only spiritually, but also in other aspects of their lives,” said Steven Manoukian, president of the Gulf Field. “That is why we try to invite specific resource people who can come and help us grow spiritually as well as to solve specific problems that may be challenging our members and our churches.”
The Gulf Field includes the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and four other Gulf countries that are at the heart of the 10/40 window, an area located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator where people generally live in poverty and lack access to Christian resources.
The Gulf Field, with headquarters in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, is comprised of 16 Seventh-day Adventist churches, five companies, and about 1,550 members.
“Please continue to pray for the brethren in the Gulf Field who are giving their best to represent our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in this region where more need to be done for the cause of the gospel,” the Gulf Field said in a statement.