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Students and alumnus share about Church's unique presence in Jordan

Chris Udall using a sewing machine with two women in burqas watch him. Two other women in the background in a white room.
Chris Udall in their fashion design center, showing the skills he learned from his students.

Living in the region where Christ ministered, according to students and an alumnus, is not only special because of historical context, but also because of the service faithful Church members show daily.

Chris Udall, a BYU–Hawaii alumnus and founder of the non-profit “Rebuild For Peace” located in Jordan, shared there were several branches of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Jordan when he was there. Branches meet on Friday mornings to observe Islamic tradition, shared Udall. 

“Everybody in Jordan is under immense stress and pressure just from being associated with Christianity. So, the unity you have in those branches is incredible.” 

BYUH alumnus Brandon Bateman, currently living in Jordan, clarified, "There is currently only one branch of the Church in Jordan, and it’s located in Amman. The branches all consolidated about 18 months ago. We have many nationalities meeting together, and hold our services in both English and Arabic!”

Udall expressed how Church members in Jordan are some of the strongest people he has seen because of how they are actively serving, unlike any other ward he has been a part of. 

“Also, many people are struggling, but the depth of conviction and testimony is certainly not about the picky details but instead faith in Jesus Christ. Nothing else,” said Udall.

While attending church, Udall noted the Church members would serve one another diligently. When a boy would be preparing for a mission, a hat would be passed around in Elders Quorum, and they would fill it up.

According to Udall, members would take off their suit coats and ties to give to one another. “I have seen members leaving church with just their undershirt because they gave what they had to support each other. That is the kind of mentality everyone has.”

Serving refugees


Echo Gray, a sophomore from Arizona majoring in biology, served refugee children in Jordan during the Summer of 2019 through the Youth Refugee Coalition.

According to rebuildforpeace.org, 70 percent of Jordanians are refugees. Many of them are multi-generational refugees, mostly from Syria, Iran and Iraq.

Gray explained, “They are on hold with life. They can’t get an education. Kids can’t go to school. Parents can’t work because it’s hard for them to find jobs.”

She went to a few different places to give children something to do every day. She taught them English, played games, did art and led sports activities. One organization she spent the most time in was called the Collateral Repair Project. They have programs for children, along with English classes for adults and other life skills courses, noted Gray.

“The people were so thankful for our help. There were a couple of teachers who brought us back to their homes and fed us. They were friendly and loved to talk to us.”

 

Church history in Jordan


Chris Udall standing on a wall with fields and buildings in the background

“There are not many members in Jordan. Church is held in an office space in an office building,” shared Gray.

Udall also had a similar experience attending church, expressing, “I went to the second floor of an office building, and the elevator doors opened. It was like walking into any other chapel.”

 He said the sacrament meeting he attended had a picture of the King of Jordan next to the picture of the Savior. According to Udall, this specific example shows how the Church tries to respect foreign governments.

In 1989, Elder Russell M. Nelson, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the time, said, “We do not proselyte in an Islamic country, but we are free to answer questions and carry on our activities there through their policy of religious tolerance,” according to the Church News.

Gray continued, “[Church members] are not allowed to proselyte openly, but if other Christians of different faiths ask questions, they are allowed to answer and have them at church. But if a Muslim comes to church, they have to send them away because that’s the law in Jordan.”