Embrace Middle East (formerly Bible Lands Society)

Embrace the Middle East

Our history

Smiling boyEmbrace the Middle East is a Christian charity, which was set up in 1854.

In our 160 years of existence we have worked in many countries in the Near and Middle East, including Turkey, Syria, Egypt, the Balkans, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Cyprus.

Currently Embrace supports projects in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria, where we have been supporting the work of local church leaders to bring food to internally displaced persons.


1854 – The Turkish Missions Aid Society is founded. Two of the founders were Sir Culling Eardley (also one of the founders of the Evangelical Alliance) and Lord Shaftesbury, who was the first president. It was an evangelical charity set up to support missionary work among Armenian Christians in Turkey.

1860 – Civil war breaks out between Druze and Maronite Christians in Lebanon

1877 – War breaks out in the Balkans between Turkey and Russia

1883 – The Star in the East (our supporter magazine) is first published

1893 – The Turkish Missions Aid Society changes its name to the Bible Lands Missions Aid Society

1894-96, 1909 – Massacres of Armenians in Turkey under the Ottoman Sultan, Abdul-Hamid II

1912 – First Balkan war

1913 – Second Balkan war

1915 – Armenian genocide in Turkey

1921 – Further massacres of Armenians and Greeks in Turkey

1948 – State of Israel declared and over 700,000 Palestinians forced from their homes, most into refugee camps

1954 – First Bethlehem Carol Sheet is produced

1956-7 – Bible Lands Services and Supplies is founded (a commercial organisation to help fund the Society’s work)

1962  – Bible Lands Missions Aid Society moves out of London to The Old Kiln in High Wycombe and becomes the Bible Lands Society

1967 – Six-Day War: Israel occupies East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza

1973 – Yom Kippur war between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria

1975-91 – Civil war in Lebanon

1987 – First Palestinian Intifada (until 1993)

1994 – Palestinian Authority established under the Oslo Accords

1996 – The society becomes known as BibleLands

2000 – Second Palestinian Intifada (until 2005)

2010 – BibleLands moves to new offices in Amersham

2011 – The ‘Arab Spring’ spreads across the region, leading to the downfall of autocratic regimes in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen

2012 - BibleLands appoints its first ever trustees from an Arab Christian background

2012 – BibleLands becomes Embrace the Middle East (August). Read about our name change here.

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