By Bill Webb, Word&Way Editor
Amman, Jordan — In some ways, Nabeeh and Ruba Abbassi seem to be going several directions at once.
Jordanians, they are longtime Baptist missionaries in their homeland, ministering among a Baptist population of a few thousand in a land where it is illegal for Muslims to convert to anything else and illegal for groups like Baptists to engage in confrontative witnessing.
Despite the limitations, they and their fellow Baptists see a great deal of opportunity within Jordan — through ministries like a Baptist conference center, schools and — at one time — a hospital ministry.
But one of the most far-reaching of Jordanian Baptists' ministries is one led by Ruba. It is known simply as Arab Woman Today. Since its start in 1999, it has grown to address the problems and needs of Arab women throughout the world.
Originally, it began as a regular radio broadcast via Trans World Radio, presenting two hours a day of original programming and other Christian materials.
"We have the opportunity to preach the gospel and reach all of the Arab world," Ruba told a visiting group of Baptist editors.
Since 2001, the original programming has been reduced to a 15-minute show that features an opening dialogue between two volunteers, interviews and a biblical message by Ruba herself. Each program is broadcast four times per week.
The Arab Woman Today staff weaves biblical solutions into programs that deal with such topics as legal rights for women and problems women confront in their families.
Women are invited to respond with prayer requests — the staff promises to pray for each one — and to request materials. They are urged to request materials by mail or to go onto the ministry's Web site to gather more information and communicate with the staff.
There are more than 116 million Arab women in 22 different countries, so the opportunity for making a difference in lives is significant.
The Web site is receiving more than 160 visits a day and more than 3,000 hits, so the fledgling Internet aspect of the ministry is growing.
Ruba and her staff were preparing to host a group of women from around the world who will gather for what they call "networking conferences," where participants in the ministry compare experiences and receive training.
Despite technological advances, the radio ministry will remain Arab Woman Today's most significant contact with women, Ruba believes.
"Every house has a radio," she said. But the networking allows the ministry not only to send helpful materials but information about a church nearby with which a woman can connect.
Ruba believes the ministry will continue to be an integral part of bringing the gospel into homes that may not be reached in any other way.
To find out more about the ministry and its needs, go to the English version of the organization's Web site: www.arabwomantoday.com/english. The Web site is full of demographic information about the Arab world and gives a good overview of the life of Arabs in general and Arab women in particular. (10-05-06)