Global Poverty and Transnational Pentecostalism in the Middle East

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Newberg, Eric N. (2021) "Global Poverty and Transnational Pentecostalism in the Middle East," Spiritus: ORU Journal of Theology: Vol. 6 : No. 1, 65-79.

Driven by the impact of global poverty, large numbers of documented and undocumented workers from Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa have migrated to countries in the Middle East. Many of these migrant workers are Pentecostals. The article provides a survey of Pentecostalism in the Middle East and reports on the findings of ethnographic research on transnational Pentecostals in the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula. Compelled by the pressures of globalization, these migrants find better economic prospects as contract workers than they could as free laborers in their home countries. Transnational Pentecostals in the Middle East derive spiritual, social, economic, and political benefits from their churches. Church members help new arrivals find housing and work, explain the bus routes, teach housecleaning skills, and share tips about wages, hours, and work conditions. These churches afford migrant workers with support, community, and agency, functioning as a means of resisting domination by oppressive local employers. Pentecostal churches have created a safe space for migrant workers, creating a counterculture of mutual support and empowering their members to navigate the underground world of undocumented workers.