All countries in this area are listed below. Countries with Web pages giving Presbyterian-specific information are highlighted. For other countries, there is currently no PC(USA) involvement in this country or the Web pages have not yet been prepared. The PC(USA) also participates in or relates to work in other countries through ecumenical relationships.
Central Asia is a region of Asia from the Caspian Sea in the west to central China in the east, and from southern Russia in the north to northern India in the south. It is also sometimes known as Middle Asia or Inner Asia. With a combined population of 59 million, the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan cover an area of 1.5 million square miles. Marco Polo traveled the famous Silk Road through Central Asia in the thirteenth century, reaching the fabled Kublai Khan in distant China. Genghis Khan conquered the region in the same century, creating the largest empire that the world had yet seen, one stretching from Beijing to Moscow. In the middle of the eighteen century Russia began to make inroads into the region, and by the nineteenth century it had succeeded in incorporating Central Asia into its empire.
The region was traditionally Buddhist, but Nestorian Christians succeeded in establishing a considerable presence there in the early centuries of the Church. Most of this, however, was swept away during the Muslim conquest of the seventh to tenth centuries, when the people of the area converted to Islam. During the Soviet era, however, a large number of Russian Orthodox members came to settle in the area, and following the region’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, indigenous Christian churches have begun to appear again as the gospel is preached to those who are hearing it for the first time.
Amgad Beblawi began service in October 2010 as coordinator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s mission work in the Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia.
Beblawi served for the previous five years as the General Assembly Mission Council’s associate for Middle Eastern congregational support in the United States. Prior to serving on the PC(USA) national staff, he worked at Fuller Seminary as academic advisor and director of the Career Services. He also served with nonprofit organizations in the Washington, D.C., area for a short time prior to his appointment as General Assembly staff.
“I believe Amgad will be an active and dynamic resource for our mission personnel serving in the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia, other Presbyterians from the United States involved in these regions, and our partners there,” said Doug Welch, Presbyterian World Mission’s associate director for mission partners and programs. “He brings a wealth of experience and commitment to his new role.”
Beblawi succeeds Victor Makari, who has been serving as Middle East coordinator, and Jon Chapman, who served as Europe coordinator. Both retired this year and their positions were combined.
Beblawi holds master's degrees in theology and biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, in Pasadena, Calif. A native of Egypt, he grew up and was active in the Presbyterian Church of Egypt, Synod of the Nile. He immigrated to the United States in 1985 and has 15 years experience in church and parachurch ministries, higher education administration, and academic and career counseling.
Beblawi lives in Louisville with his wife, Susan Templet Beblawi, and son, Justin.