The following is a press release our Evangelical Delegation issued on Tuesday, September 10:
(Jedda, Saudi Arabia) — On the eve of the 18th anniversary of the September 11th tragedy, a delegation of American evangelicals led by Joel C. Rosenberg made their second visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia within a year. The group discussed the Kingdom’s sweeping reforms and encouraging battles against terrorism and violent extremism. The group also discussed the Vision 2030 plan, matters of religious freedom, human rights, Iran, Israel and the peace process.
The visit was organized by the kingdom’s new Ambassador to the United States, HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, as well as her immediate predecessor, HRH Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The Delegation met with a wide range of senior officials, and also visited the ancient Nabatean city of Al-Ula and the $500 billion region of Saudi’s future, NEOM, both likely to draw an enormous flow of tourists once the Kingdom begins issuing tourist visas by the end of this year and as development accelerates on both projects.
The group issued the following joint statement about the visit:
“We are grateful for the hospitality of our hosts, His Majesty the King and His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. As in all of our interactions with the Kingdom and religious leaders of this nation, our focus has principally been the future of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“While it may surprise some that we would choose the week of September 11 to visit the Kingdom, we actually feel there is no more appropriate time to focus on where the Kingdom must go, can go, and where we believe it is going. In fact, our visit here on this profoundly important week is in defiance of those that aim to derail reform in the Kingdom through an embrace of hate and fear rather than courage and moderation.
“We are also grateful to have deepening relationships in the Kingdom where trust is invaluable and where change is a topic of daily conversation. This increasing trust has afforded us the opportunity to talk openly, if sometimes privately, about what we believe must change in the Kingdom even as we celebrate the Kingdom’s progress in so many other areas. That is particularly evidenced by the diversification of its economy, tourism, the groundbreaking work of the recent Charter of Mecca and the introduction of various forms of openness and modernization, especially as it relates to the rights of women. Our meetings were unhurried and our discussions were substantive.
“Frankly, we’re delighted at the scope of the developments even as we look with expectation for more change. We are also patient friends with realistic expectations that it will take time to reform what took years to create.”
Joel C. Rosenberg, head of the Delegation, added:
“We were encouraged to see that two U.S. Senators visited the Kingdom this week and met with the Crown Prince. But we were stunned to learn that these were the only two Senators who have come to visit all year. Saudi Arabia is one of America’s most important strategic allies in the war against Radical Islamist terrorism and in countering the rising Iranian threat. Yes, there are significant challenges in the US-Saudi relationship. But we urge more Senators to come here, see the sweeping and positive reforms that the Crown Prince is making, and ask him candid questions directly rather than sniping at him from Washington.”
Evangelical Delegation to Saudi Arabia: September 8-12, 2019
(note: each person came in an individual capacity; organizations listed for identification purposes only)
1. Mr. Joel C. Rosenberg — Host of the Delegation. New York Times best-selling author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Middle East with nearly five million copies in print. Chairman and Co-Founder of The Joshua Fund, a non-profit educational and humanitarian relief organization that assists and encourages Christians in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. Married to Lynn. Four sons. Dual U.S.-Israeli citizen. Lives in Jerusalem. Full bio: http://www.joelrosenberg.com/about-joel/
2. Mrs. Lynn A. Rosenberg — Wife of Joel C. Rosenberg. Vice President of November Communications, Inc. Co-Founder of The Joshua Fund. Dual U.S.-Israeli citizen. Lives in Jerusalem.
3. Rev. Johnnie Moore — Co-chairman of President Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Council. Serves as a Commissioner with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. Member of the Board of the World Evangelical Alliance. Full bio: http://www.uscirf.gov/about-uscirf/johnnie-moore-commissioner
4. Mr. A. Larry Ross — Founder and CEO of one of the nation’s most respected Evangelical public relations firms. Media advisor to numerous influential Evangelical Christian pastors and ministry leaders in the U.S. Served for decades as the spokesman for Dr. Billy Graham, the most famous American Evangelical Christian of the 20th century. Full bio: http://alarryross.com/a-larry-ross-2/
5. Ambassador John Kenneth Blackwell — Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at the Family Research Council. Bestselling author of three books. Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Board of Advisors, of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). Served as mayor of Cincinnati, Treasurer and Secretary of State for Ohio, undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. https://www.frc.org/ken-blackwell
6. Mr. Wayne Pederson — Member of the Board of Directors of the National Religious Broadcasters. Member of the Board of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Former President and CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters. Former President of Reach Beyond, an international Christian radio ministry. Member of the Board of Directors of The Joshua Fund. Full bio: http://nrb.org/news-room/press_center/media-awards/wayne-pederson-receives-2018-nrb-william-ward-ayer-award-distinguished-service/
7. Mr. Michael Little — Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of the National Religious Broadcasters. Chairman of the Board of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Former President and CEO of The Christian Broadcasting Network. Full bio: http://nrb.org/about/leadership/executive-committee/
8. Pastor Skip Heitzig — Senior pastor of Calvary Albuquerque, one of the largest Evangelical churches in the U.S. with over 15,000 people attending. Serves on the board of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian humanitarian relief organization founded and run by Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the late Dr. Billy Graham. Full bio: https://www.calvaryabq.org/churchinfo_skipsbio.asp
9. Mrs. Lenya Heitzig — Wife of Skip Heitzig, pastor of Calvary Albuquerque with a congregation of 15,000 members. Co-host of Skip’s radio program, The Connection, heard on over 400 stations nationally and on the internet worldwide. Author and speaker whose passion for women, God’s Word, and worship https://lenyaheitzig.com/about/
Saudi Delegation Schedule
Monday, September 9
- 8am — Breakfast with Delegation
- 9:30am to 10:30am — Meeting with General (Ret.) John Abizaid, US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia https://sa.usembassy.gov/our-relationship/our-ambassador/(see also https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.thenational.ae/world/mena/john-abizaid-the-mad-arab-could-be-washington-s-best-bet-for-better-saudi-ties-1.791904)
- 10:30am to 11:30am — Delegation meeting by ourselves
- 11:30am — Motorcade to Ministry of Defense
- Noon — Meeting with H.E. Sheikh Mohammed al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, at the Ministry of Defense http://en.themwl.org/dr-al-issa-took-office-secretary-general-muslim-world-league(see also https://themwl.org/en/MWL-Profile)
- 2:00pm — Lunch with H.E. Sheikh Mohammed al-Issa and H.E. Mohammed Al-Jaber, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Yemen
- 3:00pm — Meeting with H.E. Mohammed Al-Jaber, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Yemen and Saudi military officials https://www.arabnews.com/node/1289176/saudi-arabia
- 5:00pm — Motorcade back to hotel
- 5:30pm — Break
- 6:30pm — Motorcade to Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- 7:00pm — Briefing by H.E. Faisal bin Muaamar, Secretary General of the King Abdullah International Dialogue Centre and Advisor to His Majesty King Salman, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs https://www.kaiciid.org/who-we-are/governance/faisal-bin-abdulrahman-bin-muaammar
- 8:30pm — Briefing by senior staff of ETIDAL, Saudi Arabia’s center for countering extremist ideology https://etidal.org/en/about-etidal/
- 9:30pm — Motorcade back to hotel
- 10:00pm — Dinner
Tuesday, September 10
- 2:00pm to 4:00pm — Meeting with HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; HRH Prince Khalid bin Salman, Vice Defense Minister; H.E. Adel al-Jubeir, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs; H.E. Sheikh Mohammed al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League; HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Ambassador to the United States
- Fly to and tour the ancient Nabatean city of Al-Ula https://www.arabnews.com/node/1498991/saudi-arabia
Wednesday, September 11
- More meetings with Saudi officials (for security sake, I will not share more details until later.)
(Photo credits: Saudi Royal Court; personal photos)