Migrant workers Bible study

Where the world meets God’s truth

Hrayr Jebejain’s role as General Secretary of the Bible Society in the Gulf gives him a unique opportunity to work alongside God’s rapidly growing migrant church.

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The Bible Society in the Gulf is one Bible Society but serves seven nations - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen. The rich natural resources there have attracted many migrant workers. It is home to over 150 different nationalities and ethnic groups speaking many different languages.

Migrants make up 90% of the population in Dubai, and come from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, and Egypt. Migrant workers live in difficult conditions. Low paid, they are often abused, in particular the many women domestic workers. They are housed in labour camps, outside the city, where five or six people are squashed into dormitories with very poor sanitation.

Hrayr Jebejain web

Hrayr explains the Bible Society in the Gulf works through Bible-based programmes, “to serve these people, to lift their spirits and give them hope of a better tomorrow… We work with many agencies that meet social, financial, and medical needs and these are important. But the Bible, is the thing changing their lives. Their circumstances are not changing but the way they are looking at life changes.”

Christianity is tolerated in the Gulf but there are restrictions. Proselytising among the locals is a crime. Yet God has given the Bible Society a huge ministry among non-locals, many of whom come from different backgrounds and are accepting Jesus as Saviour.

Unofficially, the Gulf States are home to 5 million Christians, the second largest church in the Middle East after Egypt. There are many different denominations and lots of non-denominational churches. Hrayr jokes, “We are a school of ecumenicalism! We have all these different people and churches and languages. It’s a mosaic. We as a Bible Society serve all these different church traditions”.

The Bible Society provides the Bible in people’s heart languages as well as Christian books and are the only Christian publishing house in the region. They run a variety of programmes including literacy, Trauma Healing, Bible engagement and Bible storytelling.

A key focus is the training of leaders who pastor churches. They have an amazing ministry but no theological education. Educating about the Bible equips Church leaders to share it within the Gulf and beyond.

Hrayr talks of the “multiplying factor”, in this ever-changing community, where people from all over the world are exposed to God’s truth and love. When they return to their home country as Christians, they share their new faith with their families. Hrayr says, “They have found a treasure, and they don’t want to keep it for themselves”.