Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Sharing Your Faith in Qatar Gets Leader Deported

I heard a very strange tale and while there is nothing in the paper about it, I wonder where the truth lies. This week, the leader of the local Phillipine evangelical church (I don’t know the exact name) and his wife and three daughters and grandson were visited by the CID one morning and told that they had to be out of the country by night, that they needed to go back to the Phillipines. The person who told me could not imagine what might have caused this.

These are good people, she told me, and we are just about to do a performance about Joseph and his dreams, and his wife was making the costumes.

I thought about it, and said that well, it is an evangelical church, meaning you seek actively to bring souls to Jesus, and it is forbidden by law, in Qatar, to share our faith with Moslems. Is there any chance he was trying to convert Moslems?

She told me that people attending the church were expected to bring visitors, and that when visitors came, they were welcomed to the front of the church, where they were baptized.

I was horrorified. “Do they have any understanding of what is happening?” I asked her, and she replied no, and that most of the baptized visitors never come back. But, she added, the director still gets credit for all those baptisms, and his statistics look pretty good when he reports back to the church in the Phillipines.

In addition to her tithe (Christians are supposed to give 10% of their income to the church and charities) she said members of the congretation were tasked extra monies to pay the rent on the villa, to pay for food and travel of visitors who stayed there, etc, and she said it put a great burden on those who didn’t have sufficient income to contribute the extra. She said it wasn’t a voluntary contribution; if you didn’t contribute the extra, it was like you weren’t really a part of the church.

Last weekend, among those baptized, was a new Nigerian Moslem family who had been invited to visit. I can only imagine how I would feel, visiting a church, invited to the front to be welcomed, and then receiving a baptism I neither asked for nor wanted. I would never come back, but if I were Moslem, I might be horrified enough – and angry enough – to report it to the authorities. To me, at the very least, it is disrespectful.

There may be more to this story than the few details I was given. I expect the entire story is fascinating.

July 30, 2009 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Fund Raising, Interconnected, Law and Order, Leadership, Living Conditions, Marketing, Qatar, Social Issues, Spiritual | 5 Comments