The radical changes occurring throughout the Middle East will affect Christians living there, sparking both fear and hopeful analysis, an ecumenical church council there has concluded.

The Fellowship of the Middle East Evangelical Churches, an association of Protestant churches in the Middle East, met last month in Beirut, Lebanon. Representatives of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — including mission co-workers in Jordan and Lebanon — attended the meeting as observers.

“We went to the FMEEC meeting to listen to our church partners, to hear their perspective, and learn how we in the Presbyterian Church (USA) can continue to partner with them as they bear witness to Jesus Christ in this new era in the region,” said Amgad Beblawi, PC(USA)’s World Mission coordinator for the Middle East, Central Asia and Europe.

Middle Eastern church leaders discussed the Arab Spring uprisings of the past year and the drastic changes they brought about, notably of governments based on a moderate or radical Islam, replacing the mostly military regimes of past decades.

Participants discussed the challenges faced by Protestant Christians — a “minority within a minority” — in such a context and offered suggestions on how to confront those challenges. They also highlighted the need for a “genuine ecumenical openness” and “constructive cooperation with non-Christian groups” based on equal human rights.

Several pleas came out of the meeting: for all people to work for just peace, freedom and respect in the Middle East; for the establishment of civic states in the region; for interested parties to educate themselves on the dangers facing Middle Eastern Christians; and for continued hope and steadfastness on the part of Middle Eastern evangelicals.

“The entire Middle East is going through momentous change. Middle Eastern Protestant Christians understand this reality and are proactively responding to and engaging these events in their homelands,” Beblawi said.

Information for this report was furnished in part by an FMEEC press release about its Feb. 13-15 meeting. For the full text of that release, click here.