By BosNewsLife News Center
AMMAN, JORDAN (BosNewsLife) -- A growing number of devoted Christians in Jordan, including native missionaries and refugees, are forced to leave the predominantly Muslim nation, missionaries said Tuesday, July 10.
Christian Aid Mission (CAM), which supports native missionaries in Jordan and other countries, told BosNewsLife that local Muslim authorities, "influenced by Islamic radicals," have begun to force changes within the country.
"Although the federal government is resisting, radicals are working to implement 'Sharia' [or Muslim] law," in several areas, CAM said. "Proselytizing of Muslims is technically illegal, but Christians living in Jordan faced relatively little persecution, even while actively, tactfully and discreetly sharing the Gospel," of Jesus Christ, the group added.
However it said times are changing amid signs of growing pressure on Christians. Many of them are believed to be Iraqi refugees as well as Egyptian Christians, but native Jordanian missionaries are also targeted, the group explained.
"Some believers have received letters from Islamic radicals demanding they quit their Christian ministries and resign from their jobs. If they refuse, they risk being arrested. Several have been handcuffed and escorted to a plane or boat. They are typically deported without money or a chance to say goodbye to their families," said CAM.
In one of the most recent incidents, a Jordanian missionary allegedly told CAM that a fellow Arabic Christian worker was forcefully deported from the country. "The man was a youth minister at his church and earned a living by working at a hotel. He received a letter from local authorities demanding that he resign from his job at the hotel, as well as from youth ministry. He refused [and] one month later, he was forced to leave Jordan," CAM said.
CAM said it also learned that least two additional people received letters demanding they quit their jobs and stop attending churches "or face arrest and deportation." It said that, "several Egyptians, with especially fruitful ministries, have been deported." In addition, "Native Jordanian missionaries are facing increased persecution. Many have left the country for fear of arrest and imprisonment," CAM said.
Local Christians say authorities have also begun "to persecute even those Christians who are not actively engaging in evangelism." The news comes amid signs of growing tensions between Jordanians and the many refugees from war-torn Iraq staying in Jordan.
While Islam is the official state religion, as 95 percent of Jordan's population is Muslim, the constitution provides for freedom of religion and CAM said suggested it hopes the government will take action to avoid further arrests and deportations of Christians.
Jordanian tourist officials have told a BosNewsLife team in the past that they encourage foreign Christians to come to Jordan for visiting Biblical and other sites. But they did not address the issue of evangelism, which remains a sensitive theme in the country. (With BosNewsLife reporting from Jordan and BosNewsLife Research).
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