Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Sunday on the Beach

In October of 2007, I headed to Dubai, United Arab Emirates for three months to try my hand at modeling over there. I had heard rumors that it was the land of plenty-- that they were putting up buildings at breakneck speed, and that models were needed for advertising. Moreover, Dubai was positioning itself to be the city of the future, what with the world's tallest building (the Burj Dubai), the first 7-star hotel (the Burj al Arab), and other modern "wonders of the world."

I did have a wonderful time, and was happy that I took the risk and went. Aside from the job opportunities that presented themselves (I worked a ton!), one of the best parts of that trip were the friends that I made. I joined a local church there, the United Christian Church of Dubai, where I was immediately welcomed by their large multinational congregation.

The United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country (located on the Arabian Peninsula, it is sandwiched between Saudi Arabia and Oman) and, as such, the practice of Christianity there is a bit, well, tenuous. Prior to visiting for the first time, I read that I would not be able to bring my Bible into the country. While this may be technically true (I'm not really sure), I didn't have any problem bringing my own in. There are some discernible differences between here and there-- namely, that instead of having churches in various locations, they're all located on one little track of land, which was bestowed as a gift from the Sheikh.

My experience there was that they (the Arabians) were fine with us (the non-Arabs) doing our Christian thing as long as we didn't try to bring it to them. Their policy seemed to be that as long as we kept it to ourselves, we could practice it.

That's why this is amazing and is probably the first time such a thing has been done in Dubai. The following video shows about 200 worshipers from UCCD (my former church) on the beach at Umm Suqueim taking part in the Easter Sunday Service.

The original video is posted here. Please note that the video seems to run in Explorer and Safari but not in Firefox.


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