Adventist Review/Adventist World News Editor Mark A. Kellner is in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, viewing biblical sites and learning more about a fascinating nation in the heart of the Middle East. As time and technology allow, he’ll send brief stories and photos to document the trip.
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elcoming a group of Christian journalists to Amman, Jordanian Senator Aqel Biltaji said that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, roughly 80 years old as a modern nation, is on a democratic path. In a region – the Middle East – where democracies are rare and/or evolving, that’s a good sign, especially for a majority-Muslim nation where a number of Christians, including Seventh-day Adventists, live.
“Jordan is a ‘brand’ of promise, of respect and of acceptance,” Sen. Biltaji told the 20 editors and writers from a variety of denominational and general Christian publications.
The Senator, a former state tourism minister who is now in the upper house of the national Parliament, also praised the involvement of Christians in the nation, quoting the current monarch, King Abdullah II: “The Arab Christian is the shield of Islam in this part of the world.”
Fr. Nabil Haddad, a Melkite Catholic priest in Amman who heads the Jordanian Interfaith Coexistence Research Center, declared that Amman, originally a city of the biblical Decapolis, “is the real Philadelphia, the oldest Philadelphia. This city is for all – Muslims, Christians and Jews – you name it.”
There aren’t any Jews living in Amman – at least not in appreciable numbers – but Jordan and Israel do cooperate on some matters, such as tourism in the year 2000, when both nations teamed to promote biblical travel. Such travel is the point of the Jordan Tourist Board’s bringing our group over; they want to capture some of the pilgrimage business Israel now gets.
Over the next few days, I expect to see Petra, Mt. Nebo, Jerash, Madaba and Aqaba. God willing, I’ll worship with our Adventist brethren in Amman next Sabbath.
It promises to be an eventful and eye-opening time, and I hope to share daily reports here.