JERUSALEM — It’s blood and grief, random rockets and sudden
explosions. It’s sudden tragedy for people like Mary Jane Gardner of Wycliffe
Bible Translators, killed by a bus bomb in Jerusalem on March 23. And for
Israelis and Palestinians, it’s never over.
“Each strike by Palestinians against Israelis and each
strike by Israelis against Palestinians are in retaliation for a previous
attack,” said Stephen Johnson*, a Christian worker among Palestinians. “‘An eye
for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ is never ending.”
It’s been years of territorial back and forth for the two
groups, ending most recently in 2009 after a war that saw 1,300 Palestinians
and 13 Israelis die. Since then, relative calm had pervaded, and Israel had
seemed like the eye of the political storm sweeping the region.
But that all changed in the past few weeks.
More than 80 rockets and mortar shells have been launched
from the Palestinian territory of Gaza into southern Israel, and the bus bomb
that killed Gardner injured more than 30 others. Retaliatory attacks by Israel
have killed 10 Palestinians, with Israeli officials voicing regret over the
deaths of two teens playing football outside their house.
International media have questioned why the unofficial
ceasefire broke recently, and some commentaries suggest the attacks perhaps
were used to detract attention from protests staged in Palestine. In March,
thousands of Palestinians have followed suit with the rest of the region,
calling for Gaza’s power-holding party Hamas and its rival Fatah to come
Plenty of other theories exist as to why tumult has erupted
“It’s an ongoing story,” said Bruce Mills of Jerusalem
Baptist Church. “There’s conflict in many layers and levels.”
In Mills’ church — an English-speaking international body —
Messianic Jews and Palestinian believers in Christ sit side by side every
“They worship in spirit and truth, as brothers and sisters
with no territorial claims,” Mills said.
It’s because they both have the same peace — peace that the
rest of their countrymen need, said Ben Martin*, a Christian worker among
“Both are groups that need Jesus. We are not dealing with
saved people — that’s why we are here,” Martin said. “Both sides of the
conflict need the knowledge that we know will bring peace.”
The Messianic Jews he knows “cry out for the salvation of
the Palestinians,” Martin said.
And Palestinian believers want to reach out to Jews too, so
that they can come to know salvation in Christ.
“I have a heart to work with Jewish people, to minister with
Jewish people, to make a bridge between Palestinian and Jewish people, to see
them come to Christ together,” said Esa*, a Palestinian believer in Jesus.
Palestinians “are caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle
of violence,” Johnson said, noting that believers among them are just as
affected by the tensions as other Palestinians.
Amid the turmoil embroiling the Mideast and North Africa,
Arab and Muslim peoples are questioning long-held assumptions, Johnson said. “The
result could be a time of more openess and individual freedoms, but it is too
early to tell,” he said.
He asked that Christians would pray:
- That as people weigh their questions, they would
understand that Jesus is the answer.
- That people who are already believers will be bold in
sharing that they know the Truth and He has sent them free.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Thomas is an International Mission
Board writer/editor based in Europe.)
(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical
Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new
Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank
you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or
issues with items we run, please contact [email protected]
or call 919-847-2127.)