Evangelical Christianity is quietly flourishing among migrant groups in the Gulf as churches provide low-paid workers facing horrific abuse with aid in times of crisis, according to pastors and parishioners across the region.
About 30 million migrant workers live in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – the muscle transforming oil-based economies into glittering 21st-century metropolises.
In some Gulf states, migrants make up most of the population, and about 80% are employed in construction, hospitality and domestic jobs.
The Guardian has interviewed pastors and parishioners of churches in all six Gulf countries and found that migrants, including those from Hindu and Catholic communities, are converting to Pentecostalism, one of the fastest-growing religions on Earth with more than 600 million followers.
To cope materially and spiritually, many attend Pentecostal churches because they focus on people’s needs in the here and now – namely health and wealth – as well as the ever after.
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