In Thy Dark Streets Shineth…
by Lynn Grassmeyer
In Bethlehem today, the streets are anything but still. We asked four contemporary Palestinian Christians how they experience the impact of the coming of the Prince of Peace, in the very birthplace of the Savior.
We asked them:
As a Christian living amidst constant military presence and the threat of violence, what does Christ as Prince of Peace mean to you?
What is most meaningful about the Christmas season to you?
How would you like us to pray with you? How can Western Christians be of most help to you?
As a Palestinian Christian, it has not been an easy thing to understand peace on a human level. All my life I experienced wars and conflicts; I can hardly remember a period of time where there was no conflict in it. Yet, when I experienced the Lord of peace in my life, it gave me a new understanding of his love and goodness and peace that transcends all understanding, that fills the heart with hope amidst conflict, fills the heart with joy amidst suffering. And this is not just an idealistic belief or fatalistic submission to "what happens happens." Rather, it is faith that keeps regenerating hope in our hearts not to settle for hostility and animosity but rather to live a life of love that brings God's peace into our hearts and the hearts of the people around us.
As we progress through the Christmas season we realize our role as Palestinian Christians in continuing to proclaim the first message of the angels that appeared in our land: Glory to God in the highest and joy in the hearts of people!
Of course, things are not easy around here. We need intensive prayers against the spirit of animosity and hatred that fills our land on all sides. We need the war and conflict to stop and freedom to reign so people can no longer be preoccupied with politics and problems and begin getting engaged in the real things of life. May our hearts and minds be open to the truth of the Gospel of peace, a peace that comes only from the Prince of Peace.
When Christ walked on earth it wasn't much different from today. He lived under Roman occupation, and he faced religious hypocrisy from his own people—which led to his crucifixion! But he was victorious, and he defeated that! So, he is my example of standing for principle in the face of occupation-violence and moral indifference.
The miracle of incarnation—that almighty God, who made the universe, would think of (and care about) a speck of dust the size of our earth, and that God cares for rebellious people—is a most amazing marvel!
We are in the midst of a complicated society with a lot of suffering, disappointments, hate, and injustice. Please pray that we learn how to harness divine resources in order to address the great challenges.
The Prince of Peace taught us while he was here and lived among us, so we always look to him as our guide. He is our peace in the midst of violence.
In this Christmas season, especially in Bethlehem, we are more open to what Christ really stood for. We are all more open to the story of Jesus, and there's more of an opportunity to share the gospel because of the oppression and violence.
Pray that the Christians here will have direction at this very critical time in this very specific area of the world. As a leader…what is my direction? Because we're spreading the good news, a systematic spirit of evil is fighting against us, as it says in the Scriptures—not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. We need God's protection for believers here and now.
Munir Kakish, RCO Ministries, Ramallah
Because those with a Palestinian passport need special documents to travel from here to there, I keep struggling to present the gospel and the peace of Christ.
I can share with the people of Ramallah (Palestine) about Jesus Christ and his coming. We have our people meet at a hotel or a church, bring food, and gather to celebrate and share our life in Jesus. We use the situation of oppression and violence to come together and talk about our faith.
Please pray for ALL people here. Not just one side. Pray for pastors! We have a lot of stress here. Pray that our congregation will be able to cope with what's happening inside Palestine and throughout the Holy Land.