Christmas Day is an official public holiday in Jordan and, although Christians make up less than 10% of the population, the majority of homes and businesses are adorned with Christmas decorations.
Christians in Jordan celebrate the birth of Jesus as the Son of God, while the Muslim majority participates in the commercialism of Christmas – decorations, photos with Santa and gift giving.
Whilst the constitution allows for this apparent freedom of religion in Jordan, the state religion is Islam and some laws appear to contradict the constitution and place restrictions on Christians. Those born into Christian families are allowed to worship openly and are not required to wear Muslim clothing. However, evangelism and conversions are met with retaliation by Muslim neighbours, friends and family members. In some cases, the government secret police will become involved and typically side with the Muslims.
Christian converts from Islam face greater problems; they struggle to keep jobs and sometimes their children are taken away. Tribal authorities often discipline those considered guilty of religious infractions. Jordanian Christians are constantly aware that the government could be monitoring their activities through technology or informants. When Christians are imprisoned in Jordan for apostasy, it is rarely made known to the public.
In recent years, Christian ministry among Jordanian Christians has been largely focused on serving refugees. There is a significant number of Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria in Jordan, as it is one of the few Middle Eastern countries where it is relatively safe for Christians.
VOM works in partnership with a local mission responding to the needs of Christian refugees in Jordan. Our partner reports that refugees in the Middle East, including Jordan, are still living in less than ideal conditions. The coldest months are December and January and most of the refugees don’t have resources to buy blankets and appropriate heating systems to warm up their houses.
Christmas for a refugee in Jordan can be lonely and sometimes without much joy. Many can’t share the happiness of this time with their family because they are separated. Family members may be in other Middle Eastern regions as refugees or have received visas and immigrated to other countries.
Our mission partner provides encouragement to these families, through distributing food baskets and gifts for children. They host a Christmas event in the church where families come together in a big hall to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to enjoy fellowship and a communal meal.
Our Christmas Care project will ensure many of the refugee children in Jordan will receive a gift this Christmas, including a children’s Bible.
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