Seeking Unity in a Troubled Land
These groups are working in the name of Christ either to unite fellow believers or to promote love of one’s neighbor in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
HOPE (House of Prayer and Exploits) is a Nazareth-based Christian ministry and training center that aims to raise up prayer warriors in the Nazareth and Galilee regions with a special focus on equipping Arab women for ministry. The organization co-hosts the annual Global Day of Prayer, an event that includes Messianic Jewish and Palestinian Christian congregations in Israel.
House of Light is a Christian ministry based in the Arab village of Shefa-Amer in Israel’s Galilee region that includes a ministry to prisoners, Bible studies, worship gatherings, and a renowned youth program. Its year-round King’s Kids program brings together Arab Christian and Messianic Jewish children and teens for worship, Bible studies, and games and provides an opportunity to learn dances and pantomimes with Christian music. Participants then perform these routines as a means of sharing their faith. House of Light also is involved in a monthly prayer meeting run by Arab and Jewish ministers that aims to strengthen the body of Christ.
Musalaha is a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians as demonstrated in the life and teaching of Jesus. They endeavor to be an encouragement and advocate of reconciliation, first among Palestinian and Israeli believers and then beyond to their respective communities. Musalaha also aims at facilitating bridge-building among different segments of Israeli and Palestinian societies according to biblical reconciliation principles.
Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary, an independent, interdenominational evangelical seminary affiliated with the Association of Baptist Churches in Israel, has made reconciliation between Palestinian and Messianic Jewish believers in Christ one of its core values. Its department of intercultural studies has a focus on reconciliation ministry in addition to other subjects such as Holy Land studies, Islam, and Judaism.
Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice has sent delegations to the Holy Land to meet with Palestinians, Messianic Jews, and Jewish settlers alike. The group of Pentecostals and charismatic Christians seeks a just peace for all who live in Israel and the Palestinian territories and engages in dialogue with other evangelicals in Israel about the theology of the land. Most denominations to which PCPJ members belong hold a predominately pro-Zionist dispensational view regarding the modern nation of Israel, seeing it as the modern fulfillment of biblical prophecy. PCPJ founder (and ESA public policy director) Paul Alexander says he grew up with a very one-sided pro-Zionist perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and he and others hope these trips will provide a more balanced view. (See Alexander’s article on page 28.)
Shevet Achim employs healthcare as a bridge between Jews, Muslims, and Christians since its inception, using Israeli doctors to conduct heart operations on children from predominately Muslim areas such as the Gaza Strip, Jordan, and Iraq. The name of the organization means unity between brothers and is derived from Psalm 133:1, which states, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.” Shevet Achim applies this passage to the fractured relationship between Isaac and Ishmael (representing Jews and Muslims) in the Middle East. With the help of Israeli hospitals and international donors, Shevet Achim has sponsored operations on many Arab youths over the years with the aim of building bridges while saving children’s lives. “I’d like to think what we’re doing is a small act of a prophetic sign of people crossing barriers, with borders coming down and hearts coming together,” says the group’s international coordinator, Jonathan Miles.