190316 churches
More than 300 participants from 30 churches in Dubai and guests from different countries gathered on Saturday for the first Movement Day Dubai conference at Two Seasons Hotel in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Christians in the UAE on Saturday were called to live a purposeful life during their stay in the country by sharing love and serving the nation, following the legacy of the first two American missionary doctors who arrived in the UAE in the 1960s.

More than 300 participants from 30 churches in Dubai and guests from different countries gathered on Saturday for the first Movement Day Dubai conference.

The conference is a global movement across 100 countries that started in New York in 2010 to catalyse highly-trained leaders to find solutions to everyday problems plaguing societies around the world. Movement Day Dubai was hosted by the Evangelical Church of Dubai on the occasion of the Year of Tolerance as an expression of peaceful coexistence and sacrificial service.

With the theme ‘Continuing the legacy of Christian service in the UAE’, the participants looked back on the example left behind by two American missionary doctors, Pat and Marian Kennedy, who founded Oasis Hospital in Al Ain at the invitation of the UAE’s Founding Father Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The Kennedys and their small team provided the first modern health care in the region, saving lives and improving the health of thousands.

Dr Omar Al Muthanna, CEO of the Regulatory and Licensing Department of Dubai’s Community and Development Authority (CDA), was present along with Professor Kenneth Wilson, Adviser to Shaikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, and church leaders from Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“If you look around, today is a wonderful example of how tolerance is not just a mere title of the year but it is something that is an intrinsic part of our community here in the UAE,” Dr Al Muthanna told Gulf News during the event.

“The UAE is a country where people come from different cultures and countries come. They witness a contagious environment of peaceful coexistence that impact them in a very positive way and that is what you can sense today.”

The congregation also offered a minute of silence and prayers for the 49 people who were killed and dozens more who were injured during a mass shooting in two mosques in Christchurch in New Zealand on Friday.

Sona Kazanjian, one of the hosts, said, “Love casts all fear away. Once we love, once we stand together, then fear cannot shake us. This is our message today.”