Emad Al Abdy, one of the leaders of the Saudi Christian Association, believes “there is no better time than now” for growth of Christianity in Saudi Arabia, despite the pressure on Christians, Mission Network News reports.
Al Abdy who was jailed in 2014 for becoming a Christian, said there is a “spiritual hunger” among Saudis.
“They’re really seeking for peace, and they’re really in big need to be served, and … to help them,” said Al Abdy. However, becoming a Christian in Saudi Arabia means “almost certain shunning and persecution by family, friends, and the government,” he added.
The Saudi Christian Association was established by, and is run by, Saudi Christians. They believe that despite opposition from the government, Saudi people should have a choice to be Christian if they want.
Recently, during his first official trip abroad, the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, visited the UK and had a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. In the course of the meeting, the heir to the Saudi throne promised to promote interfaith dialogue in his country as part of his wide-ranging programme of reforms.
At present, there are no church buildings in Saudi Arabia; Christian services are held in secret places. Christians from Muslim backgrounds usually keep their faith hidden; several have been forced to leave the country after their newfound faith was discovered. Leaving Islam is technically punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, yet the number of Saudi Muslims becoming Christians is increasing, according to Christian charity Open Doors International.