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Eyes on Jesus in Gaza

Author: James Howard-Smith, 13 October 2023

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The leaders of the Holy Land’s three Bible Society teams are asking for your prayers. Victor Kalisher, Dina Katanacho, and Nashat Filmon say that the situation in Israel and Gaza is heartbreaking. Will you pray that they’re able to maintain their amazing Christian witness in a time of war, keeping their eyes fixed on Jesus?

The past week has seen a shocking attack on Israel by Hamas, which controls Gaza and has a fought a number of conflicts with Israel since separating from other Palestinian groups in 2006. Hamas forces attacked several towns, committing atrocities and taking hostages. The Israel Defence Forces have retaliated with airstrikes and a blockade of Gaza.

‘We are in shock, angry, in mourning,’ said Victor, who leads the Hebrew outreach in Jerusalem. ‘More than ever we need your prayers. Our staff are safe, but the situation is very tense. Many are in a state of shock.’

Dina, who leads the Arab-Israeli team in Nazareth, said: ‘My staff have not come to work today. They are afraid. There are no cars in the streets, no schools, no universities. Everyone is at home. We are told to purchase food and water for a whole week. It might be even more. There are serious things happening.’

In Jerusalem, Nashat, who shares the Bible with the Palestinians, said: ‘The situation is bad, and we are sadly and suddenly in wartime. It is heart-breaking to see and hear the number of casualties. Please pray for us all and for our team everywhere and for their families, especially the ones in Gaza.’

All three teams support the Church in all sorts of fruitful ministries. Earlier this year, when they asked for your support in their life-changing work, you helped raise more than a hundred thousand pounds. People seeking Jesus in the places he lived are meeting him in the pages of Scripture thanks to you.

Will you pray that Victor, Dina and Nashat are able to lift up the Bible as the ultimate light in the darkness? They want to present a countercultural message rooted in God’s love, justice and mercy. When violence broke out two years ago, the leaders reaffirmed their shared aim of seeing the word of God impact communities and transform people into the likeness of Jesus. 

Ask God to inspire and empower Christians throughout the Holy Land to love both Jews and Palestinians. On a practical level, Bible work in the Holy Land often seeks to break cycles of violence. Volunteers run workshops in schools on subjects like controlling anger and learning to forgive.

‘We at the Bible Society in Israel ask you to pray that God will give us wisdom in these days,’ Victor said. ‘Wisdom and grace to be his messengers, serving his kingdom, and not weaken his message with our own anger. Pray for wisdom and grace to love, not only the lost souls around us but also to love those who hate us.’

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