Jews and Arabs Leaving Peacefully Side-by-Side!

I recently read an article entitled, Biblical Shomron: Israel’s Strategic, Peaceful and Beautiful Heartland.  In it is the story of the Shomron Regional Counsel’s success in developing areas where Jews and Palestinians work peacefully side-by-side.  The area is called the West Bank, but in Biblical terms, it is Samaria.

This area is targeted by the BDS movement, an effort to boycott, divest and sanction Israeli companies for the purpose of “helping” the Palestinians.  But the truth is, if these companies were shut down, more Palestinians would be out of work than Israelis!  That’s one of the things that makes the BDS movement so ridiculous!

I have been to this area and I have seen Jews and Palestinians working peacefully side-by-side and it is such a refreshing sight!  Peace is possible when left to the citizens themselves.  It is when the Palestinian Authority and/or Hamas get involved that things turn south, as they have in the ongoing conflict at the Gaza border.

If only the citizens were allowed to seek a better living, Israel would give them that!  Those who do have the opportunity to live and work in the Shomron region bear testament to that!

Please pray for the people of Gaza.  The oppression (and brainwashing) is so intense, violence is all they know.  Pray they will find the freedom enjoyed by their countrymen in the Shomron region.

BTW – the Jewish “settlements” in the West Bank we hear so much about on the news look like this:

Arab Christian Pastor Thankful to be an Israeli

Image result for israel 70 and strong

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

Would You Allow Your Kids to Watch This?

In the Gaza Strip (and elsewhere), kids are brainwashed by Hamas from a very early age.  Take a look at a their idea of a cartoon:


Would you allow (and even encourage) your children to watch and emulate this?

Indeed, school age children are taught to hate and kill before they are even out of grade school.  The Palestinian people deserve better than this, and Palestinian children absolutely deserve better than this.

My friends, it is time to get down to business.  Not all of us can “go there” and make a difference, but we can make a difference right where we are.  Everyone of us can pray.  Will you please put everything aside for 2 minutes right now and pray specifically for Palestinian children?  May God protect their hearts and minds from the evil perpetuated by the ruling parties in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

Tamimi Family: Portrait of Angry Palestinians

Perhaps you have heard accounts of a teenage Palestinian girl recently arrested for assaulting IDF soldiers.  The now 16-year-old has been at it since she was 12, and was taken into custody in mid-December for her part in the confrontation and assault on soldiers near her home in Nebi Saleh, a small village in the West Bank.

Let’s take a look at one perspective of the most recent altercation:

Ahed Tamimi is the daughter of activist parents who are determined to raise the next generation to stand up for themselves and fight for Palestinian causes.  Often, that training incites violence, and it is ingrained in early childhood.  There are many examples I could cite, but here is a short, mild example:

Now…we must remember that there are two sides to this particular story.  While IDF soldiers are to be highly commended for the restraint shown when pushed, slapped and kicked by Tamimi, and while the actions of Tamimi may indeed be punishable assault offenses, it is up to the Israeli legal system to determine whether or not the conflict leading up to the confrontation between Tamimi and the soldiers was handled properly.  (Other plots are interwoven in this story, and there may be much more to it than we know.  Additional detail here.)

But, my point today is this:  teaching Palestinian children to hate Jews (to the point of wanting to kill them) is critically disadvantageous to the next Palestinian generation.  When Palestinian youth begin assaulting others as young teenagers, there is not much hope for that society.  In this case, a 16-year-old may be imprisoned.  But perhaps more disturbing, Palestinian children are being incited by leaders and parents to carry out violence.  No one wins in that situation.

Friends, I’m making 2018 a year of intense prayer, not only for Israel, but also for Israel’s neighbors.  The only hope for peace for either side is the Prince of Peace, for only He can change the hearts and minds of those bent on destruction.

Thus, I’m praying for the Prince of Peace to reveal Himself to Jews, Palestinians, Arabs, Persians, Kurds and every other people group in the Middle East; and for those hearts and minds to be open to His revelation.  Imagine the impact if Christians were fully committed to pray for Israel and her neighbors.  Will you pray with me?