EMEU – War Rages in Israel/Palestine

The violent conflict between Israel and Hamas has now claimed the lives of nearly 600 Gazans (estimated 70% civilians) and about 30 Israelis (including two civilians).  Last week, the Israeli military expanded its assault with a ground incursion, which drastically increased casualties on both sides.  Israel’s stated goal for this war is destroying tunnels that Hamas can use for terrorism and stopping rocket fire from Hamas.  Both sides have turned down cease fire proposals.  Israel claims to be warning civilians to leave targeted areas, but in cramped conditions in the Gaza Strip, where would they go?  One interesting twist is that this time around, portrayals in the media aren’t going quite as well as the Israelis would like.

How should the people of God respond to such horrors?
Please keep both people in your hearts as we yearn for war and conflict to give way to peace and understanding.  May the same Jesus who came to break down the barrier between “us” and “them” bring peace and comfort to all who suffer and live in fear.

Conference on the the status of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli prisons

EMEU NEWS RELEASE         December 21, 2012

Tom Bower represented EMEU in Baghdad, Iraq in early December at the invitation of the League of Arab States and the Republic of Iraq.  Tom and about ten other American and British Christians joined 200 participants from 70 countries to study the status of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli prisons.

Tom indicated that the conference was a meeting full of Arab politicians, Palestinians, Western activists and an interesting mix of journalists, foreign ambassadors and even heads of states.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki spoke at the conference, urging the international community to intervene to stop the violations and brutality against prisoners in Israeli jails.  He also said that Iraq is ready to internationalize the issue of Palestinian and Arab prisoners.  There was heavy emphasis on calling Israel to adhere to the Geneva Accords regarding treatment of prisoners. Continue reading “Conference on the the status of Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli prisons”

Kenneth Bailey – Will it Be a Line or a Circle?

Kenneth E Bailey
Dr. Kenneth E Bailey

One of the truly remarkable spiritual  movements of our day is the fact that tens of thousands of Muslims from North Africa to Indonesia are dreaming dreams and seeing visions of Jesus. These appearances of Jesus are deeply personal and as life changing as Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus.

“‘Jesus the Messiah’ is the name they hear in these ‘Resurrection  appearances’ for that is what they are for those who experience them. The people who see these visions find each other and new ‘house churches’ are emerging from those encounters.  These house churches, as in China, prefer to remain ‘under the radar,’ and naturally  they use the styles of worship with which they are familiar. In November of this year I was privileged to receive authenticated  news of one such movement in which those involved have indeed come to faith in Christ out of Muslim background. Naturally their style of prayer follows the graceful and reverent Islamic worship style of kneeling and bowing the head to the ground in a sacrament of surrender of the whole person to God. Yes, but what direction do these new worshipers face? Islam began by praying facing Jerusalem and then changed critical parts of its theological focus as it shifted to face Mecca for its prayers. Where do these new believers face as they pray? Continue reading “Kenneth Bailey – Will it Be a Line or a Circle?”

A New Letter from Syria

Saturday November 24 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters
During the last two weeks, Aleppo city was a little bit better than before, except for the following 4 difficulties:
– Mortars: which are falling every day on buildings in the city, destroying and killing, last week five of them fell on two buildings close to the Armenian Orthodox church and the Alliance Church, in fact two of them fell on the building where the Alliance church are using on the first floor. Continue reading “A New Letter from Syria”

Sami Awad on Creating A Common Narrative in Palestine-Israel

Sami Awad speaking at Christ at the Checkpoint, 2012
4 JUNE 2012
Sami Awad is Executive Director of Holy Land Trust, the nonprofit he founded in Bethlehem in 1998. He also directs the Travel and Encounter Program; the Palestine News Network, the first independent press agency in the Palestinian Territories; and Al-Kul Television. He works to build a future on the principles of nonviolence, equality, justice, and peaceful coexistence by “liberating the oppressor from oppression” and “liberating Palestinians from the victim mindset.”
What’s the best thing happening right now in the heart of the Middle East?
It’s nonviolent activism, and it’s happening in many places around the Middle East. In the West Bank where I live there are actions constantly in 10 or 12 places, especially in areas where Palestinian land continues to be confiscated for building the separation wall or expanding settlements. Continue reading “Sami Awad on Creating A Common Narrative in Palestine-Israel”

Rev Colin Chapman on the Western Obsession with the Dangers of Islamist Regimes Following the Arab Spring

Rev. Colin Chapman

Have you ever wondered why are Westerners, including Christians, so obsessed by the potential rise of Islamist regimes following the Arab Spring? And would they be as concerned by the rise of a Christian theocracy anywhere in the world? To be fair, I doubt.

A recent message sent by Len Rogers, from Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU) discusses this issue. The respondent is Rev. Colin Chapman, a leading Evangelical specialist in Islam. Here are his responses, preceded by a comment from Len Rogers.

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Len: Muslims are the overwhelming majority of the population of Egypt! Did we expect them to suddenly forget their religion and become a fully developed  democracy overnight? Should Egyptians now understand democracy like Republicans or Democrats in the USA? Obviously that would be difficult because Republicans in the U.S. don’t agree with their fellow Republicans or Democrats with their fellow party members. Democracy takes people where they are- not where we want them be. What results from a democratic system could be something we don’t agree with, right? Does that destroy the system? If elections are fair and square, and that seems to be the case in the recent Egyptian election, which in itself is a huge step forward, should we reject the results because the results are not what we wanted? That attitude is not very democratic – it could even be called repressive or colonial.

If we used the same logic in Latin America would it be a surprise if an election there for some issue showed that most of the voters were Catholic? Would it be a shock in the USA if the majority of voters on another issue are overwhelming Christians of some kind or other?

Colin: I personally feel that these fears about Islamists taking over in every country are exaggerated. Let me give four recent examples that point in a different direction. One of our trusted colleagues in Egypt has been saying for some months that he believes that moderate Muslims in Egypt might suffer as much as Christians. Just today another one of our mutual friends in Jerusalem told me of a meeting that took place last Thursday in Beit Sahour with 140 Muslim and Christian clerics in which they discussed the future of the West Bank. In the question time someone asked if Christians are afraid of a Muslims state being established. A leading  Mufti of Nablus answered: ‘What examples can you point to of an Islamic state in the world today – Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, or Pakistan? Do you really think that we want to follow any of these examples?’

…one of the people who has been drafting the new Libyan constitution is Aref Ali Nayed. Mr. Ali Nayed has taken part in some of the Evangelical Christian – Muslim dialogue meetings. He is a very close friend of David Ford, the Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and I have met him several times. He is extremely open towards Christians and is strongly opposed to the more extreme Islamists in his context.  A leading Egyptian evangelical Christian has said recently: ‘Let the Islamist take over and see if they can run a country – and if they can’t, people will turn away from Islam – as they are doing in Iran at the present time.

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You may download HERE Colin Chapman’s article ‘Christians in the Middle East: Past, Present and Future’.