“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'” Revelation 7:9-10
“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17
Many Nations, One Body
The Bible reveals our Creator saving for himself a people drawn from every ethnic group and culture on earth. Because of the fall, creation is marred by splintered relationships. But God’s Word says we’re all members of one human race, and those in Christ are members of one body. Regardless of natural ethnicity, Christians are supernaturally bound together.
Christ’s earthly church may not always reflect this unity, but we can take heart. God is working in and through his people around the world to gather the nations into his family.
Acts 29 churches in the United Arab Emirates are examples of just that.
A focus on diversity is essential for reaching the United Arab Emirates with the gospel; approximately 90 percent of the population are expatriates. The largest group of foreign nationals are South Asian (including Indian, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani), followed by Egyptians, Philippines, and Westerners. The potential for gospel spread from this diverse center out to some of the most closed countries on earth is thrilling.
From Dubai to Al Ain
Redeemer Church of Dubai, an Acts 29 church planted by Dave and Gloria Furman, calls itself “a church of many nations seeking to make disciples of all nations.” This focus on building a multi-national community of believers united in common faith and mission has borne fruit. Redeemer recently planted a church in Beirut and a Tagalog-speaking church in Dubai. But before those, Acts 29 member Blaine Boyd moved in 2017 about 120 miles away from Dubai to help plant a church in the city of Al Ain, bordering Oman on the eastern edge of the UAE. And when Boyd discerned a call to Kuwait City in 2019, John and Caroline Norris and Luke and Laura Humphrey moved from Dubai to Al Ain in order to continue the work there.
We’re excited to welcome John and Caroline into the Acts 29 family of churches, with John serving as lead pastor of Redeemer Al Ain.
John explained that Redeemer Al Ain wants to be “a Christ-centered, Bible preaching and teaching church in Al Ain, to equip the saints to build Christ’s body among the nations here and abroad.”
“We are a multi-ethnic, English-speaking congregation,” John said. “The immense diversity in our church presents lots of opportunity for cross-cultural misunderstanding, but is an amazing opportunity for the work of Christ to be put on display in our unity.”
A City of Oasis
Perched on the edge of the world’s largest continuous sand desert, Al Ain is a place of soaring temperatures, rocky hills, and an oasis that has nurtured human life for thousands of years.
Al Ain’s name, translated “the spring,” explains why the oldest archeological discoveries there “testify to human occupation nearly 8,000 years ago and include flint tools, stone scrapers, and fine arrowheads.” Several sights in Al Ain have made it onto Unesco’s World Heritage List, including the Al Ain Oasis (from which the city is named). It’s a fruitful shelter in the scorching heat, with 147,000 date trees of nearly 100 different varieties.
That picture of watered abundance is at odds with Al Ain’s harsh climate. Less than four inches of rain falls each year. Summer highs average above 110°F. And yet, humans have lived, worked, worshipped, loved, and died here, nestled against one of the world’s most formidable deserts, for centuries.
Why is Al Ain hospitable to life? Of course, the answer is water. It’s essential for human flourishing; we go where water is to survive. Spiritually speaking, the gospel of Jesus is the water of life for believers. The Bible uses water to illustrate the regenerative power of God to save, nourish, and satisfy his children.
Today, many nations meet at the desert oasis of Al Ain to enjoy regular water that our bodies always need. But on that glorious day when Christ returns, God’s people from all nations will be gathered to rejoice in him, our Living Water, forever!
Even now we see a glimpse of heaven when people from many nations come together as one body. As Redeemer Al Ain proclaims this gospel message of eternal life, may the nations hear and be saved. “God has brought the nations to the UAE,” said John. “Many of them are from among the unreached, and the gospel is spreading.”
Please join us in praying for this church in Al Ain as they seek to walk in the unity of Christ and proclaim his gospel to the world.