Entries in Jordan (12)
"Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert."-- Nehemiah 9:19
The book of Nehemiah tells the story of a man of considerable leadership faced with a daunting task: rebuilding the walls, and consequently, the heart of Jerusalem.
We face a similar task when we sponsor a child from Jordan or Lebanon. And just like Nehemiah, we need to be wise and sensitive to both the task at hand and the people we are working with because just as in Nehemiah's time, there are people who oppose the work in progress.
Many laws in Jordan and Lebanon prohibit overtly Christian work -- especially evangelism -- yet God has opened doors for our ministries to continue working in areas that desperately need love and support. And so we continue to serve the children, meeting their physical needs and praying to provide for their spiritual ones.
This honor and responsibility is not something we take lightly. Program workers creatively share their faith and love on these children in tangible and powerful ways. Outside of the school or center's environment, our programs put together summer activities and camps where they can continue to minister to the children.
Yet in the current political climate, any organization with international ties is subject to scrutiny. In response, we operate in a sensitive, careful way to protect the work we feel God has given us for the sake of His children.
We don't live in a culture with such consequences for faith. We rightly see sponsorship as a ministry. And because we are spurred on by the Great Commission and accustomed to our freedom of expression, we often seek to proclaim Christ with our sponsored child in explicit ways: sharing the gospel in our letters, writing out Bible verses for our child, declaring Jesus' great love.
These are not bad things but they are dangerous for our workers and ministry there. We cannot send letters with explicitly Christian content to these areas. The heart behind the words is beyond honorable, but the risk is too great: parents may withdraw their children, and schools already closely monitored will be shut down, effectively ending a ministry for all of the children in that community.
When faced with threats and intimidation, Nehemiah had but one effective weapon: prayer. In Nehemiah 4:9, we read that the people prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
Please help us guard against the threats to our work. Do not include Bible verses or references to Jesus Christ in your letters. It may seem counterintuitive, but references to Christianity or the gospel puts this life-changing ministry in danger. Stickers or cards with Bible verses or Christian symbols cannot be sent on.
Although these restrictions may be frustrating, please continue to write to your child. This region is rife with turmoil and hardship. Your letters are an invaluable source of stability and encouragement. Tell your sponsored child that you are proud of them. That you care for them. Ask about their daily lives.
Be assured that your sponsored child is learning about Jesus from people who love them and live out the faith before them. Our staff members are modern day Nehemiahs, burdened for these people yet savvy in this perilous environment. And like Nehemiah, they need to know that they have allies and partners in this great yet subtle work.
As sponsors of children in these countries, we need your help to further our ministry among children there. Thank you for your faithful prayers and support. Your commitment is helping us build into the children of this storied region.
Yesterday we shared a wonderful recipe from Jordan, and today we’ll examine one of the schools we serve there. In many ways, this school provides a glimpse of the greater picture in Jordan.
Jordan may be considered more developed than many of those we serve, yet the children of Jordan face numerous challenges. The influx of refugees into Jordan has only increased (from Iraqi and Palestinian refugees earlier in the decade, to nearly a third of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees fleeing their country’s civil war in the last two years).
Jordan has a long history of sheltering asylum-seekers and refugees, but Jordan’s infrastructure, including its schools, is increasingly strained. Schooling is compulsory until age fifteen, but with increasing class sizes, it is difficult to meet the needs of Jordan’s children, let alone the ever-growing refugee population.
Several of the schools we partner with provide opportunities for students in unique ways. The Theodor Schneller School has a long and storied history (the late King of Jordan, His Majesty Hussein Bin Talal laid the cornerstone in 1959) and was opened next to the Hitteen refugee camp to meet the needs of poor, orphaned and neglected children from all walks of life. It was named after a missionary who opened schools and orphanages in the Middle East.
In addition to standard academics, the school has a gymnasium, a computer lab, sports clubs, a garden, and sporting teams. Students learn important skills in metal and wood working or automobile mechanics. These are opportunities not normally available to refugee families who struggle to meet basic needs, let alone pay for school fees and activities.
Children like Mahmood, Aadil, and Abdas, found hope for their future at the school. Mahmood, as the oldest, had been caring for his siblings even though he was only 6 years old. His parents, recently divorced, were mostly absent from the boys’ lives, but Mahmood found a place at the Theodor Schneller School and began to flourish.
Soon Aadil and Abdas were also enrolled. Nearly 10 years later, the boys have strong characters and are near the top of their classes. The love and acceptance they found at the school shaped their lives.
For many children, the Theodor Schneller School is a refuge of safety and security, providing opportunities they would have never received on their own. These are the life-changing opportunities you provide when you choose to sponsor a child. Thank you!
When we asked for recipes from our field staff for our Taste of Sponsorship series, our friends in Jordan were very quick to send this recipe. Mansaf is more than a meal – it’s a cultural tradition and Jordan’s national dish. Many consider it the heart of Jordanian cuisine.
Mansaf is traditionally made of meat stewed in fermented goat’s milk. The Bedouin people, a nomadic tribe looking for water and shelter in the harsh desert, made this meal with the limited ingredients in their environment.
Mansaf makes use of jameed, a fermented goat’s milk yoghurt which is separated, mixed with salt, and formed into balls (called jabjab) which can be stored up to a year (very convenient for the desert-roaming Bedouins). The best type of jameed comes from a community we serve in southern Jordan, the town of Karak, which was known as Moab in Bible times.
Like many of the recipes we will share, we test them first to prove that you can make this in your own kitchen. While it probably didn’t have the same flavor as mansaf made with true jameed, we found plain yoghurt worked well.
We were able to share this special meal with a family who came to visit One Child Matters and volunteered to read letters. The boys were eager to learn this new meal, so they helped us with the prep and cooking.
Mansaf can be made with goat, lamb, or beef (goat was valued more highly than lamb and communicated the host’s respect for their guests), but we had an easier time finding beef, of course.
The recipe involves boiling the yoghurt, something we were slightly nervous to do. But the yoghurt got thinner as it heated up, so it boiled quickly and without scorching. Our Jordanian staff gave us the tip to stir the yoghurt in one direction only or the yoghurt would curdle.
Served on a large platter, mansaf is traditionally eaten with the fingertips of your right hand. The meat is continually drenched with the yoghurt sauce by the host as a sign of hospitality and celebration.
Our president, Mark Pluimer, and his wife Dee ate mansaf during a trip to the Middle East – he was quite excited that we decided to create this culinary experience in the office.
We served the mansaf on a plate of pita bread, covered with rice and then the meat and sauce. The pine nuts and almonds added a nice crunch. Meghan also made a minted zucchini salad as side. For a special treat, we made minted lemonade (a very simple recipe) that is served all over the Middle East.
This was a hearty meal that we all found tasty. Food is central to fellowship in the Middle East, so we were thrilled to share this Jordanian tradition with our guests.
Have you ever eaten mansaf? Let us know if you decide to try this recipe!
Your sponsored child may live halfway around the world, but you have more in common than you think in terms of Christmas traditions... especially food! We even included some recipes if you'd like to try something different this year!
While some of our projects are located in rural areas, we also work with children who live in cities. Our projects in the Middle East reveal the rigors of urban living for the working poor. What does your sponsored child's home look like?
Water affects so much of your child's life -- is there enough to wash up before school? Is it safe to drink? Can I go out and play? What season is your sponsored child experiencing right now, and what does that mean for daily life?
The goal of any Mission of Mercy program is to equip children in developing nations to reach their God-given potential. So how does that work in our schools?
If you sponsor a child, especially a boy, odds are you’ve read that his favorite sport is football. Is that the same as soccer? Why do we call it soccer, anyway?