"Missions Fest Vancouver is part of Missions Fest International and highlights global mission opportunities, showcases over 260 international mission organizations..."
260 International missions organizations!
It's true, and although I didn't count, there were indeed PLENTY of booths set up in the exhibition room. While I enjoyed walking through the many isles and losing myself in conversations about local and overseas work, it seemed second nature to be seeking out information about people located in the 10/40 window (http://www.joshuaproject.net/10-40-window.php), and more specifically the Middle East. I cannot claim that I spoke to every single exhibitor about Israel/Palestine and the surrounding few countries, but after a couple hours of finding nil through polite roundabout conversation, I certainly forwent the icebreakers and facades where I tried/pretended to be interested in other regions. What I found was this:
-4(or so) Organizations who had projects in either Iraq, Jordan, or Afghanistan
-4 Pro Israel organizations
-No groups that had projects in Iran
-No groups that had projects in Palestine
-No groups that had projects in Syria
-No groups that had projects in Lebanon
...I forgot to ask about Yemen. I know. I wish I had remembered. Have you seen pictures of Yemen recently? What a cool place! Sadly, the population is statistically unreached with the hope of Christ.
Comparatively speaking, there was an abundance of known activity happening in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Of course that isn't to say that there aren't any large umbrella organizations in the above above listed areas, just that they weren't represented at this specific conference.
I wish that I would have know that I was going to blog about this, because I really would have taken better notes and sources. Anyhow, these aren't academic musings. I'm not saying that there isn't a Christian presence in the "forgotten" countries (because there most certainly is), but that presence is definitely a lot more grass roots (grass roots is awesome, just difficult to follow abroad). As people looking for opportunities to go overseas with the intention to work/serve/volunteer, I feel strongly that more focus should be given to the forgotten promised land, not simply because there is a lack of Gospel being circulated, but because many areas are actually very impoverished and therefore needing plenty of practical help with things like community development, access to clean water, and education. I'm specifically thinking of refugee camps in Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon.
As a side note, there seems to be quite a few established English teaching opportunities in Iraq. Shane Claiborne shared a bit about his experience with the local church in Baghdad and his stories were intensely captivating. If we come back safe and sound from Palestine/Israel, perhaps that will be a future TWU trip proposal. Haha, that's mostly a joke for my mom. Sorry.
If you're interested: www.thesimpleway.org [Shane's site]
Blessed that I could share this with you.
Happiest of Saturdays and peace,