The Pursuit of Peace
While the politicians pursue their definition of peace, among some there is a growing realization throughout the region that lasting peace can be found only in a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
A pastor in Israel for twenty-five years believes that Year 2000 millennial hype, talk of the return of Christ, and the future uncertainty of the region all contribute to this recognition that lasting peace must begin with God. Another long-term worker in the region adds that international movements like Praying Through the 10/40 Window, which focus prayer on the region, have made a significant difference. Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries all have felt the impact of these prayers. (Ray Register, in soon-to-be-published book titled: Back to Jerusalem.
"There is more response to the gospel than ever before in the land of Israel," a pastor reports. "Today you can talk about Yeshua openly." Arab Christian leaders in the region say that for maybe the first time in memory, many people from various backgrounds are beginning to accept the gospel and experience the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit. They seek fellowship with Christians to learn how to pray and worship God in new ways.
|"For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and
has destroyed the dividing wall of hostility."
- Ephesians 2:14 NIV
Throughout the region men and women, Arabs and Jews, are finding peace with God in ever-increasing numbers.
Paul wrote of the Lord's desire to reconcile sinful man to himself and one another in him through his Son. Believers from all backgrounds are coming together in their common faith in Jesus/Yeshua/Uasua/Isa/Christ/Messiah. They are also trying to maintian their cultural distinctives so they can maintain links and build bridges back into their own communities -- unity without uniformity!
For the past eighteen years most of the congregations of Galilee, including Israeli, Arabic, Ethiopian and Russian immigrant believers, have gathered each August for a unity meeting of up to 600 believers. In Karmiel, an Arab believer participates in leadership in an Israeli congregation. There are regular prayer fellowships between the leaders of both the Messianic and Arab congregations.
After more than three years of retracing the trail of the cursaders from Germany through Turkey, Syria and Lebanon in "The Reconcilliation Walk," more than 400 mainly western Christians walked into Jerusalem on July 15, 1999 to ask forgiveness for the historical bloodshed and for a lingering "crusader mentality" in the church today. They walked around the Old City and prayed for the peace of Jerusalem. They they delivered an apology, as decendants of the crusaders, to Chief Rabbi Yisrael Lau, Greek Orthodox Partiarch Diodoros, and Muslim Mufti Ekrem Sabi.
God's people are working to reconcile Arab and Jewish believers. Tom Hess, International Director of All Nations Convocations and the Jerusalem House of Prayer for All Nations, has been enabling reconcilliation between Jewish and Arab leaders. They meet regularly to pray together for the peace of Jerusalem and all nations. A 24-hour Worship Watch has been launched on the 12 Gates of Jerusalem and 24-hour Prayer on the Mount of Olives. They also hold an All Nations Convocation in Jerusalem every two years.
Salim Munayer, founder of the Musalaha ministry, also works to reconcile Jews and Arabs. An Israeli Arab, he grew up in the mixed Arab-Jewish community in Lod (biblical Lydda). Shortly after he became a believer in Jesus in 1977, Salim realized that the conflict between Jews and Arabs was rooted in sin and separation from God. Musalaha (Arabic for "reconciliation"), the only ministry of it's kind in the country of Israel, emphasizes Christ's atonement on the cross and his resurrection at the only hope through which true reconciliation can be achieved. The ministry conducts trips into the desert, where Jewish and Arab youth unite in the hardships of the desert and in their common faith. (See sidebar on Peace in the Desert.) The ministry also encourages reconciliation among the Palestinian Arab and Israeli communities.
Around the world believers are praying for the peace of Jerusalem, that Arabs and Jews will increasingly be reconciled in the Messiah and that the Middle East will again become a blessing in the midst of the earth.
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