Now that I am in the US, I feel free to write more and free to say the things that I had to be more careful not to talk about, like religion and Christianity. It has been so nice to be back in the Bible Belt in Southern Alabama. It is like a polar opposite from Saudi Arabia. Within a 30 minute drive, I counted 7 churches. There are also as many Christian radio stations as non-Christian ones. Now that it is summer time, Vacation Bible School is being offered at almost every church. It is just wonderful.
In Saudi Arabia, it is against the law to publicly practice (or even discuss) anything other than Islam. Before I went there, I was aware that there were countries where sharing one's belief in Christianity was not always welcomed. I had been to some of those countries. However, in Saudi Arabia, it was not allowed. It is so hard to explain this concept because in any other country in the world, people can freely follow a religion or not. Freedom to believe "whatever" is possible.
I will never forget the moment I joined a "Christians in Saudi Arabia" facebook group. I asked in code words if there were any "meeting places for other believers." I received a few responses saying, "How could you come here and expect to go to church....don't you know that you can't meet with other Christians here-this is a Muslim country....you should just practice your religion in the privacy of your own home-for your own safety and for the safety of your family." Stunned-that's how I felt. Bewildered- that other Christians were too afraid to meet with another. Amazed-that my pursuit of simply meeting other believers would probably not happen.
And it was true. I never did find any church to meet with. I did hear of individuals who met in a small group and I did meet a few Phillipino's who asked me my religion and I told them and they responded that they too had the same beliefs. But that was it-it was just not enough. Having no support group was just no way to live there. I am sure that others have better stories and I hope they do, but this is my story and unfortunately things did not work out the way that I had planned.
I feel truly blessed. God took me through many trials and I did not go crazy (well, maybe once or twice). I hung on for as long as I could and God gave me a way out-safely. I feel like this little bitty town is heaven on Earth! Thanks for reading my ranting and ramblings! What do you think? -Andrea