israel palestine

Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com

Palestinian men seeking access to Jerusalem at a checkpoint in August 2012. Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com

JERUSALEM — One out of four Christians today is Pentecostal or charismatic, which means one of every 12 persons living today practices a Pentecostal form of Christian faith. This, along with the astonishing growth of Christianity in Africa, are the two dominant narratives shaping world Christianity today. Further, the gulf between the older, historic churches, located largely in the global North, and the younger, emerging churches in the global South, often fueled by Pentecostal fire, constitutes the most serious division in the worldwide Body of Christ today.

One can also frame this as the divide between the global Pentecostal community, and the worldwide ecumenical movement. Each lives in virtual isolation from the other, and both suffer as a result. I call it ecclesiological apartheid, with its own endless, winding walls of separation. And these walls need to come down, for the sake of God’s love for the world.

It’s become my passion, in whatever small ways, to make some cracks in these walls.

Lynne Hybels 06-01-2012

Few people I know believe peace in the Holy Land is really possible—unless it begins with Israeli and Palestinian Christians.

Lynne Hybels 03-01-2012

"Do you invest it in revenge, or do you think creatively?”

Sami Awad 02-01-2012

Nonviolent resistance will be key to freedom and independence in Palestine.

Alex Awad 11-28-2011
Palestinian Christians hold mass near Bethlehem to protest construction of Israe

Palestinian Christians hold mass near Bethlehem to protest construction of Israeli separation barrier (ryanrodrickbeiler.com)

What one quickly learns when visiting Bethlehem is that the political climate today is quite similar to the one that was prevailing during the time of Jesus. One exception is that the Palestinian inhabitants of Bethlehem today are being occupied by those who consider themselves the offspring or cultural descendants of Jews who were under the yoke of Roman occupation in the first century.  Other reminders of the political similarities are the weekly demonstrations on the outskirts of Bethlehem by Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals to nonviolently protest the confiscation of Palestinian land to build new Jewish settlements. Unarmed and nonviolent demonstrators face heavily equipped Israeli troops who protect those who steal Palestinian lands in the West Bank and construct segregated settlements on them.  This reminds us of the brutality of the Roman occupation forces against Jewish freedom fighters.

But Bethlehem today is not all consumed with politics. Many of the folks in Bethlehem could not care less about politics. Repeated disappointments with the host of so-called peace brokers and failed peace plans have caused many Bethlehemites to abandon politics. They just want a decent standard of living to carry on with life in security with their children and grandchildren. These are the people who in spite of the same closures and repression by the forces of occupation, choose to be peaceful. They hope that freedom will come but they don't know when or how it will come. Like the folks who lived when Jesus was born, they continue to wait quietly for political liberation.

Tom Getman 11-01-2011

Glenn Beck's exploitative event in Israel ignored justice and U.S. public opinion.

Gary M. Burge 06-27-2011
I send many of my students to the Middle East as interns. In fact, Wheaton College has an entire program devoted to student short-term placement.
Ryan Beiler 08-03-2009

In most cases in Occupied Palestine at this point, Palestinian refugees live in UN-administered camps that are essentially urban slums--overcrowded apartment blocks with high rates of poverty. But there are still some refugees that live in tents.

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