By Tim Hunt
A perspective on the Middle EastUploaded: Dec 30, 2014
Earlier this month, a friend from church wrote a thoughtful email to members of our choir after they presented their Christmas concert.
He is retired military, served in Desert Storm (the first Gulf War), and lived in Saudi Arabia for five years. He writes from experience. I thought excerpts would be worthwhile to share.
"As I so enjoyed your music tonight, I could not help but think of the Arabs I knew, lived with, and worked with for many years in Saudi Arabia and how if they heard your music, it would make such an impact on them. Most of them are good people, not all, but most. And they just want to live and have a good life.
"It is their religion that is so depressing. In all of Saudi Arabia, there is not a church or a synagogue and worship of any god other than Allah is forbidden. They have no music, no choir, no bells, no inspiring music at all. Instrumental music is not taught in any school. There is no ballet, no national symphony, no theatres, no plays, and television is extremely bland.
"Tourists are not allowed to visit, so there is no chance to see anything like we saw tonight by a visiting choir. Worse still, if a Muslim converts to Christianity, they will likely be killed by their own family, and it isn't a crime.
"I remember years ago when we had a visiting pastor from Mali, as black as coal, with a booming voice. When he was twelve, he and a little friend were encountered by a traveling Christian missionary and he had a pen, a clicker, that fascinated them. Said he, if you learn one Bible verse, I will give you each a clicker. When he went home, his father questioned him about how he came to receive the pen, and when he told his father that he learned a Bible verse, his father beat him almost to death and threw him out of the home.
"Forever. His friend's father beat his son so badly that he is crippled to this day. So I ventured to ask him how he was doing in converting Muslims to Christianity. Remember that Mali is 100 percent Islamic. He said it was almost impossible. If one converted, he would never be able to marry, and no one would give him a job. He would be an outcast in his own country. He would usually recant to keep from being murdered. It's pretty much that way in the Islamic countries.
"I have spent a few Christmases in some unfriendly places and what you did for us tonight was what I missed most. We Americans are so blessed. Music is God's gift to his people."