I find it hard to describe Oman. One could start with the weather which at this time of year was a constant 35+ degrees Celsius and dry and it wasn’t particularly hard to adjust to this though of course it rises towards 50 in June/July during Ramadan which is when the ex-pats who can head ‘home’ for milder climes do. Then there is the striking beauty, aided by blue skies, perfect sunrises and sunsets, and empty Muscat beaches backed by rugged mountains, the uniformly white buildings, the impressive structures including Mosques, the Wadis and the desert. Then there is the people. One is tempted to ask ‘where are they’? Where do they do their business, where do they shop, what are they like? This is harder to answer.
Firstly, the climate dictates that the people are not on the streets or at the corner shops because society has to order itself around the air conditioned car and the air conditioned Mall. Secondly, culture dictates that many of the women will not be seen outside their immediate family circles. Thirdly, there are three main people groups: the indigenous Moslem, the ex-pat community comprising many from India as well as the West in its widest sense, and the temporarily contracted migrant workers from Nepal, India, Bangladesh etc. The people I met mostly were the middle group: mainly through church.
I have great respect for Chris and Nicole as they stick at seeking to lead church in Oman amongst this people group. It may not be the same for all the congregations who meet on either of the two church compounds in Muscat, for many of the other churches are targeted to specific people groups, but the Protestant Church in Oman seeks to hold together a diverse membership. In such a church we can rejoice that God is calling people from every tribe, nation, culture and class into his one kingdom. But this is not without its conflicts. With gratitude they are not conflicts that are known to me in Brighton. Chris and Nicole and their colleagues working with children, youth and adults need our prayer to persevere at speaking the gospel, for wisdom how to do this and with whom, and how to support all (let the reader understand) who are eager for the grace of God whatever culture they are from.
I had an amazing time with them and I hope you will enjoy the pictures.