Arab Christian Pastor Thankful to be an Israeli

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We were blessed with so many fantastic speakers at the ICEJ/ACLI Conference earlier this week, and I want to share about one of the most interesting speakers of the event, Pastor Saleem Shalash.  Pastor Shalash is an Arab Christian living in Nazareth (Jesus’ boyhood hometown), shepherding Home of Jesus the King congregation.

His gratitude for salvation is clearly obvious, as is his love for Israel.  Only 1% of Christians in the Middle East live in freedom, and the vast majority of those are in Israel.  He humbly recognized that he has more rights than Jewish Israelis, including lack of mandatory service in the IDF (as a Christian Arab), though having the same right to subsidized medical care.

Additionally, he confirmed what is known by mamy: the Arab-Palestinian cause is very lucrative.  Monetary and humanitarian aid given to the Palestinians could be used to build dozens (if not hundreds) of schools, hospitals, government facilities and much more, yet those resources flow right into the pockets of Palestinian leaders.  Founding leader Yasser Arafat, current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas leader Khaled Mashal are all worth over $1 billion…while the Palestinian people suffer.

Saleem fully recognizes the stark contrast between his fellow countrymen and himself, calling it “the difference between heaven and hell.”  Whereas Arabs and Palestinians, in general (particularly in the Gaza Strip and West Bank), live in turmoil, he enjoys peace and relative prosperity in Israel.

Regarding his homeland (Israel), he stated unequivocally that it is the prerogative of the Israeli government to determine its capital.   With great excitement and energy, Pastor Shalash exclaimed that the move of the US Embassy was not just history, but HIS story…God fulfilling His covenant with Abraham to use Israel to save the world. (See Israel: God’s Vehicle to Redeem the World and Israel: God’s Vehicle of Eternal Salvation)  Indeed, He is!

In closing, Pastor Shalash used a familiar Bible account to illustrate God’s work in Israel today.  In Luke 5:1-7, Jesus was standing on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and found two boats on shore and fishermen (Peter, James and John among them) cleaning their nets.  Jesus got into Simon Peter’s boat, cast out a short distance and began teaching the crowds on shore who had followed Him there.

When He finished, He instructed Peter to put out into deep water and cast the nets.  Peter was a master fisherman and had just spent a very unproductive night fishing, had gotten the nets cleaned up for the next day, and was perhaps a bit indignant at being given fishing lessons!  You see, it was the wrong location.  Fishing in the deep was not what they did!  They knew the fish stayed in more shallow parts of the lake.

Not only was it the wrong location, but it was also the wrong timing.  Fish don’t bite in the daytime!  On top of that, it was the wrong tools.  Their nets were not made to fish in deep water.  Wrong location, wrong timing, wrong tools.

Yet, they obeyed and the nets were so full of fish they needed help hauling them all in!

Comparatively, many would say Jerusalem is the wrong location in Israel for embassies!  After all, not a single nation’s embassy has been in Jerusalem since the 1980’s.  Some would say the timing is wrong.  Though the US Embassy was the first to move (on May 14, 2018), there is outcry that it will result in extensive regional conflict, which some nations and people groups have vowed.  Still others argue that moving embassies is the wrong tool.  Do something different…just don’t move embassies to Jerusalem!

You see the parallels.  However, God chooses foolish things of the world to confound the wise!  (1 Corinthians 1:27)  His thoughts are also higher than ours.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
~Isaiah 55:8

We were truly blessed by the boldness and contagious joy of Pastor Saleem Shalash, but we were even more grateful for the evidence that God is indeed calling all people to Himself.  Pastor Shalash sees the Light and is a Lightbearer to his fellow countrymen.  The love of Jesus to all mankind is shining brightly into the Arab community in Nazareth Israel and beyond as Saleem takes his message of Christ’s love and redemption around the world.

Praise God His love isn’t reserved only for a small group of people, but for the entire world!

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
~John 3:16

Israel at 70: A View from the Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy and a Jewish Author

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At the ICEJ/ACLI Conference in Washington DC, we were privileged to hear from Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy, Yaron Gamburg, gave an exciting speech about the history of Israel.  In regard to Israel today, he mentioned three key things of which everyone should know:

  • Land – As we know, God’s covenant with Abraham promised Israel a land.  (See Genesis 12 and 15, as well as other references.)  When God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, He referenced a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3, Ezekiel 20).  Yet, when Israel was reborn in 1948, Israel was far from a land flowing with milk and honey.  Yet, Isaiah 35:1-2 tells us that the desert will blossom.  That is happening!  You see, the land blossoms only when Jews are in it!  God keeps His promises to His people.
  • People – God’s covenant with Abraham also involved people.  Abraham would be the father of the Jewish people.  Since Israel’s rebirth, 3.5 million Jews have made aliyah (return to the homeland)!  Israel has now overtaken the United States as the most Jewish-populated country in the world…as they should be!  God is bringing His people back to their land, just as He promised.
  • Purpose – The Jewish people have a purpose: to make the world a better place.  Avi Jorisch, author of Thou Shalt Innovate, also spoke at the conference, concurring that tikkun olam (making the world a better place) is part of the Jewish DNA.  It is ingrained.  Ganburg referred to the Jews as “lights unto the world,” and strive to leave a positive impact.

Jorisch spent considerable time describing innovation in Israel, including all the ways in which inventions are helping people all around the world.  We previewed CBN’s latest release entitled, To Life, which documents the worldwide relief work done by Israelis.

It is so important that we share the truth about Israel.  Here’s a great way to learn (then tell) about Israel’s efforts to be “lights unto the world.”  To see To Life for free, click the link.  Check it out, then spread the word!

Muslim Woman Comes to Faith in the Jewish Messiah

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob loves the descendants of Ishmael and draws them to Himself.  Furthermore, those descendants of Ishmael were created with the same internal yearning to know God that we all have…it’s just that they think His name is Allah!  (See In Search of the One True God)

For some, their yearning leads them to the Jewish Messiah!  Here is one such testimony:

 

Dear Christian friends, as you celebrate your own salvation today, why not pray for Muslims to find what they are yearning for: the One True God!

Hebron: Testament to Abraham’s Friendship with God

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“…and he was called a friend of God.”

Abraham had a very unique relationship with God.  It was through Abraham that God made a covenant to provide land and descendants forever.  God made Abraham the Father of the Jews, and it was through Abraham and his descendants that the entire world would be blessed with salvation.

Genesis 23 tells us that when Abraham’s wife, Sarah, died, he purchased a field with a cave, as a burial site for his family.  Years later, upon Abraham’s death, he was buried there as well (Genesis 25:1-11).  (Isaac and Jacob and their wives are buried there as well.)  Verses 2 and 19 of Genesis 23 give us precise information about where that burial place is: Hebron.

Today, though thought to be the oldest Jewish community in the world, Hebron is one of the largest cities in the West Bank, and is inhabited primarily by Palestinians.  (Roughly 250,000 Palestinians and 700 Jews, with about 6,000 more Jews occupying the suburb of Kiryat Arba.)

Now for the cool part!  Do you know what “Hebron” means?  It is derived from the Hebrew word haver, meaning “friend.”  However, Abraham was also the father of Ishmael.  The Arabic name of Hebron is Al-Khalil, which means “the friend!”  (Apparently, Jews and Arabs can agree on that!)  Indeed, Abraham was a friend of God, and Hebron (his burial place) memorializes that fact.

What is Hebron like today?  Well, it isn’t exactly as “friendly” as one would hope.  Here is a glimpse into Hebron of today: