Info

soon asked the help of CMS missionaries, who returned to Palestine in 1851. Mission work among the Jews meanwhile was continued by the LJS, in Palestine and Istanbul. In 1849, the first Protestant church building in the Middle East, Christ Church in Jerusalem, was consecrated, although at that time the majority of its congregation consisted of Europeans, complemented by a few Jewish converts. In Egypt and Iran, where the missionaries (CMS and ABCFM) were more reluctant to form separate Protestant churches and the circumstances for reform were more favourable, the need for separation had not yet arisen. In Egypt, this changed when in 1854 American Presbyterians started work in Cairo and from the beginning aimed at the formation of a Protestant church, which came into being not long after the beginning of the mission. In Iran, Protestant congregations did not formally disconnect themselves from the Church of the East, and for quite some time the bishops allowed 'reformed' and 'old' congregations to exist alongside each other. A fully separate Protestant church was not instituted till 1871. Although the schools of the missions were usually open to Muslims also, the fact that these schools attracted large numbers of Christians (both Protestant and others) made Muslims shun them, whereas the missionaries' involvement in the affairs of the Protestant congregations left them little time to engage in special projects aimed at Muslims.

It was only in the last decades of the nineteenth century, when fresh generations of evangelically minded missionaries entered the field, and under the impact of institutional changes such as the division of the ABCFM into the largely congregational ABCFM and the Presbyterian Board of Missions (i870), that missions among Muslims became an important priority of the mission boards. This change of policy was facilitated by growing western influence and political pressure on Middle Eastern governments (including the British occupation of Egypt in 1882), leading to limited toleration of personal religious choices on the one hand and to a growing interest of Muslims in western religion and culture on the other. New mission posts were opened that worked almost exclusively among Muslims, such as those of the ABCFM in Iran (Tehran 1872, Tabriz 1873, Kermanshah 1894), the CMS in Iran and Iraq (Ispahan 1869, Baghdad 1882) and Aden (Keith Falconer, 1886-7), and some of the new CMS work in Egypt (W H. T. Gairdner, 1899). Missionaries of the American Dutch Reformed Church opened new fields in southern Iraq (Basra 1891, Bahrain 1892), where members of the Zwemer family played an important role. An additional factor enabling mission work among Muslims was a renewed emphasis on education and medicine. Modern institutions such as universities and hospitals were greatly appreciated and provided many

0 0

Post a comment