Interview: Canon Andrew White, Leading the FRME's Works in the Middle-East

|PIC1|Top Christian leaders gathered in London’s Westminster Chapel Monday Nov. 21st, in a call for prayerful support of the works of The Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle-East (FRME).

The FRME is an organisation being largely led by Canon Andrew White, who has worked in the Middle-East region since before the Gulf War. The organisation is the only evangelical body in the world, which is running both the religious track of the Middle-East Peace Process, as well as working on the complex search for peace in Iraq. In addition to this, the organisation runs the Israeli Palestinian Institute of Peace, and is at the forefront of peace making in Iraq with the Iraqi Institute of Peace.

A highly distinguished board has graced the FRME, with several former ambassadors of Middle Eastern countries, and the Chairman is Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

In addition to the FRME’s political and diplomatic work, it is also running one of the largest churches in Baghdad, as well as supporting the evangelical church in Gaza.

Canon Andrew White is the leader of St George’s Church in Baghdad, where earlier this year in September, the entire lay leadership of the church are feared dead after going missing. Canon White said he had been told on 13 September that the Anglican team was attacked while returning from Jordon on the notoriously dangerous road linking the Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah.

“It is the most dangerous area in Iraq,” he had previously reported. “One of two things must have happened. They either got kidnapped or they died. But we have had no ransom demand or anything.”

Canon Andrew White is perhaps the most distinguished Christian working in the Middle-East, and works in close contact with the administrations of the US and UK governments as well as Iraqi, Israeli and Palestinian leaderships. Canon White has also been presented by the US Supreme Military of the Order of the Knights of Jerusalem, their highest award – the Cross of Valour. Canon White is the only recipient of this high honour in living history, for his extraordinary heroism beyond the call of duty involving personal hazard and danger and the voluntary risk of his own life for his compassion towards others in the region.

Christian Today, in an exclusive interview with Canon White, managed to find a little more regarding the works of the FRME and the peace process in the Middle-East. The full interview can be seen below:

CT: Please tell us a little bit about what your next plans are for FRME, and where you plan to take it?

AW: Well FRME is a relatively new organisation which seeks to promote peace in the Middle-East as a whole and so work in Iraq, Israel, Palestine and other areas also. So we are right in the heart of the conflict areas and our aim is to do whatever God sends us to do.

At the moment with elections coming up in Israel, Palestine and Iraq, there is a considerable amount of openness about our work.

One of the things we are doing in Iraq is actually helping prepare elections and this is a massive thing. We are continuing looking at how we can best take forward the religious track of the peace process.

CT: How well received are the Christians in the peace process?

AW: Well, we work as asked, and not just as Christians, and to be quite honest no other Christian groups are involved. So the Archbishop of Canterbury as he was then is very well received, but other Christians are not so well received and it depends on their ability to actually be neutral in the conflict areas.

CT: So what can the religious leaders bring to the table that other secular leaders cannot?

AW: One thing we have to realise is that the Oslo process was a totally secular process and one of the reasons we feel it failed is because the Middle-East is a profoundly religious region. So it is very difficult to have any process of anything, let alone peace, without dealing with the religious issues.

For example Jerusalem, how can you deal with Jerusalem without taking into consideration the Holy site?

So one of our aims is to enable the religious dimension of peace-making to be returned to the process. Though we are very clear that we don’t think we can do everything, nor do we think we have the answers to everything, so we work closely with the non-political leaders also.

CT: You have said that you don’t agree with Iraq becoming a western-style democracy, so what are your plans for working in Iraq?

AW: I don’t personally decide the way Iraq will function. That is for people bigger and more important than I and so my job in Iraq is to work within the system that is very much established, and to enable a process to allow democratisation to take place.

But I think it will be very different to western democracy as I don’t think that can actually work in a Middle-Eastern climate.