News may come streaming in daily from the Middle East, but there is hardly ever a mention of Christians in the region. That is surprising given that they number between 10 and 12 million. What's more surprising is that not even Christians in the West know much about them. Betty Jane Bailey and J. Martin Bailey seek to remedy this problem.

The Baileys, both United Church of Christ pastors, write out of their experiences of touring, living, and working on and off in the Middle East since 1969. They introduce readers to key figures in Middle Eastern Christianity, unusual terminology, and local shadings of common terms—evangelical, for example, has a different meaning in the East.

They also profile each of the principal Middle Eastern churches. They summarize each church's history and current challenges, its liturgical language and traditions, and note its leadership and contact information. A country-by-country section is particularly absorbing, with comments on Christian communities, population, history, contemporary circumstances, interfaith activities, and challenges posed by overzealous evangelistic groups.

This solid reference book should open up a new understanding of the Christian community abroad. As the Baileys note, "our experiences in the Middle East have enriched our lives and broadened our lifelong ecumenical commitments."

Related Elsewhere

Who Are the Christians in the Middle East? is available at and other retailers.

Previous Christianity Today articles on the conflict in the Holy Land include:

How Evangelicals Became Israel's Best Friend | In the last 50 years, Israel has needed all the friends it can get, and evangelicals have ...
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