There is a wildly strange event taking place right now that is dramatically increasing the number of missionaries in the Middle East – and they are all coming from China!
China’s current zero-tolerance policy for Covid has created an almost impossible situation for foreign missionaries, which has caused many of them to move out. Many have moved to the Middle East to wait for China to open back up and they are ministering there while they wait.
“We have one missionary that lives close to us,” Joseph (not his real name) said today while we were in a taxi cab together in Istanbul, “and he had to leave China with his family for medical reasons. They have not been able to return to China – not even to sell their furniture – so we helped them to pack up all of their belongings and ship them to the Persian Gulf where he is currently making a new life.”
Joseph runs a business in an undisclosed Arab nation, but I was able to spend some time with him this week in Turkey, as he shared about all of the new missionaries that are arriving in his remote location of the 10/40 Window.
What Joseph is seeing is not isolated. It is happening all across the Middle East.
“We have seen so many western missionaries from China arrive in Turkey in the last year,” Robert (not his real name) said. “In Istanbul alone, we have seen our language school boom with new missionaries that have not been able to stay in China. Some language classes are as high as 90% missionaries from China!”
The same phenomena is being reported in the U.A.E., Oman, Qatar, Jordan, and even Iraq.
Did Covid in China create a missionary diaspora to the Middle East? If so, it will be interesting to see the long-term impact.
It’s possible that this one event in history could catapult the completion of the Great Commission at a faster rate than many had anticipated.