Christianity Today: Jordan evicts evangelicals
Jordan said through its U.S. embassy that the deportations came in response to complaints from Catholic and Orthodox bishops about evangelicals' proselytizing. Much of evangelicals' growth has come from the conversion of nominal Catholic and Orthodox believers.
However, one evangelical leader in Jordan said multiple factors, including new pastors with better training, increased access to satellite TV and the Internet, and prayer are combining to draw Jordanians to the Christian faith.
"I wish what the government accuses us of doing was true, that we are doing evangelism, giving Bibles away, going to the streets," he said. "But these people are just coming to us, and they have a hunger."
Jordan's moderate government is facing growing political pressure from at least three sources: Islamic fundamentalism, turmoil in surrounding nations, and the economic strain of hosting almost one million Iraqi refugees. Observers say reducing the number of foreign evangelicals allowed the government to build political capital with both Muslim hardliners and Christian bishops.
"Jordan has bigger problems than missionaries," said one longtime missionary in the country. "Jordan is more afraid of internal security threats than of religion."
Some of the deportations can also be attributed to well-intended Western missionaries with flawed practices. "Too much of the evangelical 'evangelism' in Jordan is spurred on by demands from sending agencies in America who require quick results and statistics that assure donors of success by American church-growth standards," said Leonard Rodgers, executive director of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding.
Observers said missionaries to Jordan should devote more attention to interfaith and ecumenical discussions, and to strengthening indigenous Jordanian churches. [...]