Living near Bethlehem but not knowing the Messiah
Generations of Palestinians have lived in Gaza and the West Bank as refugees. Poverty is widespread and unemployment is high. Palestinians are not allowed to leave the Territories easily. Infrastructure and services are generally poor. Difficulties and grievances give Islamist groups, like Hamas, opportunities to impose their agendas through violence and terrorism.
The Palestinian Territories are almost exclusively made up of Arab Muslims. The small Christian minority is dwindling fast, and many of them are tired of being crushed on the front lines of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many have turned their backs on the Territories because of the bad economic conditions and have emigrated elsewhere, and others are trying to go that route as well. The result is that now, in Bethlehem and surrounding areas, there are very few remaining Christians. At the place where the Messiah was born more than 2,000 years ago, today one hardly finds anyone who believes in Him. Yet there are Muslim Palestinians who choose to follow Jesus. Some have met the Messiah through dreams and visions. Deciding to become a believer almost always comes with serious consequences. Often, their families turn their backs on them in rejection.
In the Territories, the bonds of family and old traditions are much more pronounced than in the Western world. The decision to leave Islam is regarded as the loss of family honour. Thus, Muslims who come to faith in Jesus are often excluded from family, rejected by relatives, and disinherited. Because of this, they are become destitute and need urgent assistance. Also, as new additions to the family of God, they need instruction in the Word of God — the Bible. Only with this help can their faith stay strong and survive in an environment that is so hostile to believers.
- Pray former Muslims can sense God’s comfort and care, and that they are welcomed into the Christian community (Psalm 3:3, Psalm 103:1-6).
- Believers need protection, deliverance from evil, and favour in maintaining relations with their Muslim neighbours (Romans 12:17-21).
- Pray Islamist extremism and violence does not flourish and dominate those who seek peace in the Palestinian Territories (Jeremiah 15:20b-21).
- Ask God to call more believers to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to proclaim and demonstrate God’s love. May God open hearts among the Muslims to receive the Messiah.
Listen to the Podcast – DAY 20 – Bethlehems Palestinians