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Shammas Safwan Ziyadeh, 28, says he was among the few lucky youth in Ader to find a job there with the Catholic charity Caritas, aiding Syrian refugees sheltering in the area.

“When I tried to find work here, it was extremely difficult. But the initiative would be a great help to everybody and wonderful legacy for the Kerak region as a whole,” he says.

“Christians are the lighthouse for the entire region,” says Atef Baqa’in, one of the Ader parish elders.

“Our Muslim neighbors tell us so, saying we have commitment and moral character,” adds the 64-year-old.

“Pope Francis has remarked to the effect that the Middle East without Christians is not the Middle East,” says Ader’s Melkite Greek Catholic pastor, Father Baqa’in.

“We want to remain in our land. We want to remain in our country,” he adds, underscoring the importance of seizing this opportunity quickly.

Mr. Bahou agrees, and affirms his commitment to see it through.

“Jordan is the Holy Land. We tell our friends in the West that, and of the need to support the local Christian communities who have flourished here since the church began,” Mr. Bahou says.

“Otherwise at the end, each one will make the decision to leave, and that will be the end.”

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Based in the Middle East, Dale Gavlak has reported for CNEWA from Iraq, Egypt and Jordan.

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