King Abdullah of Jordan yesterday asked a group of evangelical leaders to urge Christians in America to press for peace in the Middle East. Meeting in Washington, D.C., with some 80 leaders whom the Arab monarch called "men and women of peace," he said: "Arabs need to hear your voice."
King Abdullah asked the group -- from the United States, Canada and South Korea -- to communicate to members of their constituencies that: "the future in the Middle East must be peace. It's time to stand up for what we believe in. We need courage. The people in America should believe in us. Don't lose hope in us."
Seoul, South Korea, pastor David Yonggi Cho, Trinity Broadcasting Network's (TBN) Paul Crouch Jr., and pastors John Hagee of San Antonio, Marilyn Hickey of Denver, and Billy Joe Daugherty of Tulsa, Okla., were among those who attended the meeting hosted by TV evangelist Benny Hinn. He told the group that evangelicals had "put one arm around the Jews in Israel, and now it was time to put the other arm around the Arabs since they are God's children, too."
Hinn's comment was applauded by the group, including King Abdullah, who is in Washington this week to talk with members of Congress who are voting soon on a Free Trade Agreement with Jordan, which the king said was important to his country's economic development.
King Abdullah ascended to the throne in 1999 following the death of his father, King Hussein, noted for his long-running peace efforts in the Middle East. King Abdullah said that Jordan -- whose population is 92 percent Muslim -- had a history of equality for various religions, including a growing evangelical Christian minority. Benny Hinn and fellow evangelist Morris Cerullo have both held meetings in Jordan.
The king spoke about the "difficulties" in the West Bank between Arabs and Jews and talked at length for the need to end the "vicious cycle of violence," saying "if the violence continues it will only get worse." He also said that Jordan's tourist office was actively pursuing Christian tourism and invited the group to visit the country's holy sites.
Earlier this year the Jordan Tourism Board launched a major effort to put the country on the pilgrim map, calling its 200 authenticated biblical locations "probably the best kept secret of the Holy Land." Among the biblical sites in Jordan are the place where Jesus was baptized, Elijah's hill and Mount Nebo.
During a question-answer time, Paul Crouch Jr. asked if TBN could build a station in Jordan. King Abdullah said even though the nation's newspapers and TV stations were currently a government monopoly, he was pushing for "privatization" which might allow for such a station.
Claud Bowers, president of WACX-TV SuperChannel 55 in Orlando, Fla., told the group that his wife had just returned from a successful tour of Jordan with a group of tourists. Don Argue, president of Northwest College of the Assemblies of God in Kirkland, Wash., told the king the group had been invited by a committee called "Friends of Jordan," and they wanted to be supportive of the growing group of evangelicals in Jordan.
Hinn told the group that the late King Hussein had asked to meet with evangelical leaders, but died before the meeting could take place.