In addition to worshiping with a Messianic congregation, our tour was highlighted by absolutely incredible visits with Arab and Palestinian pastors. In fact, these visits were among the highest priority when the tour was planned, and it became clearly obvious that the Lord is mightily at work among their congregations! Words are inadequate to describe what we experienced, but I’ll share some detail with you.
Pastor Saleem Shalash pastors an Arab congregation in Nazareth and we were blessed to meet him one afternoon. Very energetic and committed to his calling, Pastor Saleem shared his testimony and provided insight into the challenges faced as an Arab pastor in Israel. It is no secret that he is sold out for Jesus, that he loves the Jewish people, and that he and his family face opposition.
The work he and his congregation are doing, particularly within the Arab population, is very encouraging. The Lord is at work in the land of Israel and Pastor Saleem is on the front lines of that work! In fact, the ministry and his congregation have outgrown the small gathering place we were privileged to visit, and it seems the Lord is preparing great things for them. We learned that a $10 million piece of property is available for a religious group at a very low cost, but that the owner is not currently willing to sell to evangelical Christians. However, Pastor Saleem is in talks with the real estate agent and the owner to discuss the situation and perhaps persuade the owner to sell to Pastor Saleem’s congregation. We’re praying for God’s favor. Please join us in that prayer.
Later in our trip we also met with Pastor Ziad Bannoura, a Palestinian pastor in Bethlehem. Just like Pastor Saleem, Pastor Ziad loves the Lord and the Jewish people. He also shared his testimony and a bit about his ministry to Palestinians in the Bethlehem area. Again, it is obvious the Lord is at work in and through Pastor Ziad’s ministry.
We were blessed to spend a brief time at Israel College of the Bible, through whom we coordinated our tour. ICB is the only evangelical Christian college in Israel. I have been blessed to take several courses online and know first hand the quality of work they do.
A major ministry initiative of ICB is to bring together Jewish, Arab and Palestinian pastors in a special year-long pastor’s training program. Pastors are brought in and housed together, Jew with Arab, and comradery is built quickly. They study together, train together and live together…and ultimately serve together in the kingdom of God! Take a look at how they do it:
Indeed, the Lord is alive and well in the land of Israel, and the Holy Spirit is moving! While it is difficult to express just what is happening through these men and their ministries, I hope you will pray for them!
More tomorrow, so stay tuned! Shalom!