By Eric Leijenaar, BosNewsLife Senior Special Correspondent
MECCA, SAUDI ARABIA (BosNewsLife)– Christians have set up an underground church in Mecca, viewed by Muslims as the “holiest city in Islam”, while tens of thousands of other Saudi Christians are worshipping via the Internet, a mission group confirmed Friday, April 24.
“It is unclear how many people are participating in the church in Mecca, because people are afraid to talk about it openly,” said Jaap Bönker, director of Netherlands-based Arabische Wereld Zending, or ‘Arabic World Mission,’ which has close contacts with believers in Muslim nations.
News of the secret church comes despite strict rules forbidding non-Muslims to enter Mecca where huge ‘Muslim Only’ traffic signs warn outsiders about these regulations, reported BosNewsLife’s Dutch news partner Manna-Vandaag.nl
In addition, Bönker said, some 70,000 people are worshipping in what has been dubbed Saudi Arabia’s ‘Skype Church’, a reference to an Internet program that allows people to communicate with each other via relative secure connections.
He said the developments are part of a growing Christian movement in “the heart of Islam” despite reports of persecution of Christian converts.
Bönker stressed his group is receiving reports “that God is active” across the Muslim world, including in Iran and Saudi Arabia. He also said there are “hundreds of Christians” in autocratically ruled Libya where there were only “some 20” known believers in 2003.
The official explained that satellite radio and television programs, the Internet, as well as “disbelief in [their] own religion, and especially visions and dreams” play a major role in the spread of Christianity.
He said Arabic World Mission is investigating ways to help new believers in Saudi Arabia to better understand their faith. “However it has become evident that God Himself” educates people “through His Spirit,” added Bönker.