What’s really behind Israel’s attack on Christian charity World Vision? | The Electronic Intifada

Aid group says funds sent to Gaza amount to far less than Israel claims was diverted.

Source: What’s really behind Israel’s attack on Christian charity World Vision? | The Electronic Intifada

In care you REALLY want to know.

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Gaza: One Year On – Clinging to Hope amid Despair

Stories of Christian Persecution – The Church of Gaza Strip

An Open Doors documentary.

Interview with Hanna Massad, Former Pastor of the Baptist Church in Gaza

Christian killed in Gaza
Christians in Gaza mourning a fellow believer
killed by Israeli strikes (photo AP)

Christianity Today has just published an interview with my friend Dr. Hanna Massad, former pastor of the Baptist Church in Gaza, on the situation of Christians in that area following the current IDF military operation there.

Here is the beginning of it.

* * *

What are Christians inside Gaza telling you?

I was happy to hear about the ceasefire. This morning the news was that, unfortunately, the fighting has continued. Several times daily I communicate with Gaza by phone or Skype. Water supplies are very low in Gaza. There’s little or no electricity. I’ve spoken with my Muslim neighbors and Christians. All are waiting and anxious about what will happen next.

Are Gazans being sheltered in churches?

Gaza Baptist Church hasn’t been damaged, but it’s next door to Gaza’s main police station, which is a target. The bombs have made it too dangerous for Baptist church members to meet. But thousands of Muslims have found refuge in other churches that have opened their doors to refugees. My neighbor called to ask if he and his family could move into my family home in Gaza. Now there’s almost 100 people living in my house. People throughout Gaza are taking care of each other. Continue reading “Interview with Hanna Massad, Former Pastor of the Baptist Church in Gaza”

A Prayer for the Middle East

prayer of a child

Lord, you are the rightful Advocate of peace, teach us to carry the torch of peace and justice that it may reside within the hearts of Palestinians and Israelis, and radiate in our Middle East. Banish the violence and evil within all combatants in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Israel. Through the grace of Love transform the Middle East into a heaven, where Sunnis, Shiites, Jews and Christians can live together as brothers and sisters, and sons of You Almighty God.

Welcome into your kingdom all children killed in Gaza, and comfort the wounded people from both sides, sustain parents and families who are under siege and fire. Sustain our staff in Gaza that they can provide light and hope in a very desperate environment.

Lord, it is time to end violence and hatred. We cannot go on like this, something should change and we are waiting for your intervention. Change our hearts and transform lives of all people especially children. Strengthen our faith that we continue to witness Your love and mercy among people surrounding us.

Lord we trust in You.

(I have received this from my friend and colleague Dr. Charlie Abou Saada, in Bethlehem, Palestine.)

 

A Statement by Bethlehem Bible College Regarding the Current Crisis in Gaza

Today God weeps over the situation in Palestine and Israel. Today God weeps over Gaza.  With God, our hearts are broken when we see the carnage in Gaza and in Israel.

We at Bethlehem Bible College consistently called for a just peace for both Israelis and Palestinians. We always sought a nonviolent resolution to the conflict. “All forms of violence must be refuted unequivocally”, stated the Christ at the Checkpoint manifesto. We also believe that as long as the occupation of Palestinian territory and the siege of Gaza remain, the conflict will continue to escalate. To quote the manifesto again, “for Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict”.

As Christians committed to nonviolence, we do not and cannot endorse Hamas’ ideology. However, we believe that the people of Gaza have the right to live in freedom and dignity. This means that the siege over Gaza should be lifted and the borders should be open. The people of Gaza need a chance to live.

We oppose Hamas launching rockets at Israeli town and cities. At the same time, we are shocked by the unproportional and inhuman response by the Israeli military and the disregard of civilian life and specially innocent women and children.

We are grieved by the mounting hate, bigotry and racism in our communities today, and the consequent violence. We are specially grieved when Christians are contributing to the culture of hatred and division, rather than allowing Christ to use them as instruments of peace and reconciliation.

In the face of this, we affirm – using the words of our own Dr. Yohanna Katanacho:

We are against killing children and innocent people. We support love not hatred, justice not oppression, equality not bigotry, peaceful solutions not military solutions. Violence will only beget wars, it will bring more pain and destruction for all the nations of the region. Peacemaking rooted in justice is the best path forward. Therefore, we commit ourselves to spread a culture of love, peace, and justice in the face of violence, hatred, and oppression.

We call on all the friends of Bethlehem Bible College to pray for an immediate ceasefire, followed by serious efforts to address the root of the problem not the symptoms. We pray comfort for the bereaved families. We specially pray for the Christians of Gaza, who although are currently under bombardment, yet they are offering shelter and support for the displaced and wounded. We finally call for you to pray for all those – Palestinians, Israelis and internationals – who are committed to spreading a culture of love, peace, and justice in the face of violence, hatred, and oppression.

Note: Pray for the Shepherd Society – a ministry of Bethlehem Bible College – as we contemplate practical ways to minister and walk along the destitute and displaced in Gaza. We will soon share with you how you can help us respond to the huge needs.

A statement by Bethlehem Bible College’s board of directors, president, deans, faculty, staff and students – and the local committee of Christ at the Checkpoint.

Source, HERE.

Joint Statement on Israel and Gaza by Imam Mohamed Magid and Rabbi Michael G. Holzman

Joint Statement on Israel/Gaza

July 22, 2014

Imam Mohamed Magid & Rabbi Michael G. Holzman

The current military operations in Israel and the Gaza strip should disturb all people of faith. The only moral path to a solution between Israelis and Palestinians (Israeli Jewish/Muslim/Christian and Palestinian Muslim/Christian) will be dialogue and negotiation. This is a long and arduous path, but the faith that grounds our traditions can sustain the slow evolution of history. The current conflict is an outgrowth of over a century of opposing narratives and ideological differences that no military operations can resolve.

Our traditions exist to uphold the moral foundations for civilizations and as such we urge an end to the current violence. While we acknowledge the need for self defense, when the can of violence opens, as it has now, worms of vengeance and blood-feud crawl out. Then people begin to abandon the principles of justice and mercy upon which civilizations are founded. Instead they turn to more tribal urges, seeking retribution for past wrongs.

We believe the current violence crosses that line. At some point people cease looking for solutions and instead succumb to base human urges for violence. They crave the blood of the enemy to compensate for the pain of loss. This is the way of our animal instincts, the ethos of ancient tribes and clans who exist only to protect all within, while opposing all others. The teachings of our ancestors rose above that thinking long ago to build great civilizations. We believe that when we look to our texts and traditions we can rise above the narrative of suffering and victimization to find roads to healing and wholeness.

The Torah this week teaches of the “Cities of Refuge” (Numbers 35: 6-28) places where a person can flee after an accidental death or manslaughter in order so that relatives of the deceased cannot exact revenge. The one who flees must face criminal justice, and the City of Refuge serves as both a haven and prison for the man slaughterer while restricting the blood thirst of the avenger. The people living in Israel and Gaza can look at the current situation and see only murder and intentional killing, or they can see how decades of hatred breed spontaneous violence. In these heated emotions, our traditions call for cooling off, seeking refuge, and then finding a path to justice. Only through such systems can order and peace be restored.

Several verses from the Quran also give us reminders to work for the protection of life and how to respond with good and forgiveness in times of major challenge and conflict.

“Good and wrong cannot be equal; repel wrong with something which is better and verily he between whom and thyself was enmity may then become as though he had always been a close, true friend.” (Quran 41:34)

The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from God: for (God) loveth not those who do wrong(Quran 42:40)

Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) humans;- for God loves those who do good(Quran 3:134)

“Whoever kills a person, unless [as punishment through due process] for murder or mischief in the land, it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Quran 5:32)

While we do not pretend to know the pain of the mourners, we also urge them to honor their loved ones not through the tribal urge for revenge, but rather to build up societies of justice and mercy.

These values are the cornerstones of civilization and the paving stones to peace. Seeking more blood for blood only perverts and discards the great traditions of Islam and Judaism. We abandoned an “eye for an eye” centuries ago. Now we urge our brothers and sisters in the Middle East to seek a solution that protects the self while fostering compassion for the other.

Continue reading “Joint Statement on Israel and Gaza by Imam Mohamed Magid and Rabbi Michael G. Holzman”

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