Serving in the Middle East

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Serving in the Middle East

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The road to peace in the world must be built on trust. Without trust, there can be no peace! That axiom is true between people, families and, of course, between nations. The fractured relationships between countries and cultures in our world attest to that. Five young people are volunteering in the Middle East to do what’s needed in this regard—build trust!

Young adults with the United Youth Corps volunteer to serve in interesting parts of the world to gain a unique and meaningful worldview. One of the outcomes we strive for is a better understanding of the culture in other parts of the world.

We currently have five young adults serving and teaching for a year in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. These young people are serving at three schools and institutions in this Arab nation. But why? It has to do with serving people, appreciating their culture, building relationships and creating trust—the very things that make lasting peace.

A legacy of service and friendship

At present, our United Youth Corps volunteers are serving in three institutions: the Amman Baccalaureate School, the Young Muslim Women’s Association (YMWA) Bunayat Centre for Special Education, and the Regional Human Security Centre.

The modern-day presence of the Church of God in Jordan goes back to the early 1980s when a number of Ambassador College students were chosen to serve at either the YMWA Centre for Special Education, the American Center for Oriental Research, the Al Hussein Society Centre for the Physically Challenged or the Amman Baccalaureate School.

For 16 years these volunteers, representing the Ambassador Foundation, demonstrated a commitment to dedicated service, whether helping the Jordanian people in serving those among them with disabilities or student teaching at their foremost baccalaureate school. This committed example of service resulted in building some wonderful personal relationships—relationships that have lasted for years. It also established a reputation of trust, honesty and integrity that has long been remembered by members of the royal family in Jordan. In particular, a trusting relationship has been established with Princess Sarvath El Hassan (wife of His Royal Highness Prince Hassan of Jordan).

Current project in Jordan

At the invitation of Jordan’s royal family three years ago, the United Youth Corps resumed the Church’s service to these various Jordanian institutions.

In the early 1980s, Princess Sarvath began the Young Muslim Women’s Association Centre for Special Education in an effort to serve the needs of the many children in Jordan with disabilities. Since that time, the center has been staffed with personnel who have the training to assist and teach those with learning disabilities. United Youth Corps participants are able to assist these teachers in select classes working with the children and the staff. Needless to say, their presence and service is greatly appreciated.

The Youth Corps also serves at the Amman Baccalaureate School where our volunteers work as student teachers. During their year at the school, in addition to teaching and working with the students, our volunteers gain insight into the cultural variations in teaching in this Middle Eastern country. And while these young people do not verbally preach Christianity, the fact that Christians from the West are willing to spend the better part of a year helping, serving, learning and building friendships in this Muslim country speaks volumes.

The third institution where our volunteers serve is the Regional Human Security Centre (RHSC). This organization is a unique research body started by His Royal Highness Prince Hassan bin Talal nine years ago to explore and recommend policies on both regional and international levels that deal with all aspects of human security, safety and care. The work of the RHSC is accomplished in the shadow of the many issues of poverty, war, conflict and ethnic disputes that exist throughout the Middle East.

These efforts are a close match with the desire of the United Church of God to abate the causes of human suffering and to teach and model the causes of peace. Youth Corps volunteers have the opportunity to contribute to this Arab country’s secular efforts to seek solutions to human care and security challenges during some very troubled times in this region of the world.

To serve a people

Again, United Youth Corps volunteers are in Jordan to serve, not to proselytize or preach. They prepare for this unique opportunity by learning about the culture and the issues that have led to the conflicts that exist in this part of the world. They understand that they are there to represent something bigger than themselves and a cause more important than the few people they are able to meet and serve while there for a year.

So many in the world today will flaunt their brand of religion in the face of others, which often causes the recipient to turn his head and go the other way! The United Youth Corps program in Jordan is based on spiritual principles that, if followed, can ultimately lead to that elusive goal mankind has sought for millennia: peace.

We all know that trust cannot be demanded. It must be earned. In a world where trust has been broken between individuals and between nations for thousands of years, the trust that is built will only develop over a period of time. It can only happen when people know that they are valued, that they are loved and that they are important. Youth Corps volunteers understand that every person they meet and serve is important to our Creator, as is every teacher they assist or are supervised by.

We remind our volunteers that in this unique part of the world they must still continue to practice the godly values outlined in God’s Word, even though the people they serve may not understand their values now. As we read in 1 Peter 2:12 1 Peter 2:12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
American King James Version×
, this involves “having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

It has always been the intent of God to have His people live what they believe even more than merely saying or preaching it. United Youth Corps volunteers in Jordan are striving to do this as they pave the way for peace through their love for a people and through serving the needs of others. VT

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