The Only Hope for the Middle East
Brother Andrew with Al Janssen
Category: Israel & Palestine
Events in the Middle East have always confused outsiders. And this book emerges from that chaos as it weaves together diverse accounts from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian lives which portray the region's complexity. It's a book that sometimes leaves the reader wanting to make logical or chronological connections between its accounts, but linking them in this way is not really necessary. Just keep on reading and a picture of the region's political, religious and social realities will develop despite the narrative's frequent leaps across space and time. So where is the church in the Middle East amidst such tangled realities?
Early on, the authors themselves enter the story to seek out and serve the church. They discover a church under fire, divided along ethnic lines and language barriers, separated by differing end-times theologies, isolated, and struggling to maintain its presence in the region. What is needed, however, is a church which boldly shows God's love to the suffering and thereby works as peacemaker in the process. But the church must learn to be reconciled across its own divisions, to be strengthened and transformed before it can fulfil its calling.
The authors also ask important questions: where is the church in the West when its body in the Middle East is being held hostage and enduring hardship? Why has the Western church been absent, failing to provide the practical and spiritual support the Middle Eastern church needs? And why have some Christians been supporting political policies and actions that fuel the conflict and create more hardship for the Palestinian church?
Through their long-term commitment, the authors model how to build bridges and identify with the suffering of people in the region. Showing God's love for and honouring the dignity of Muslims as human beings opens the way for the authors to share the gospel with large Muslim audiences. And through prayer, funding and physical presence, the authors encourage the church to conceive and implement its own ideas for becoming a light in the darkness.
So this book becomes a testimony to the discipleship of the Middle Eastern church. By persevering and actively working towards reconciliation, both Palestinian and Messianic churches bear fruit amidst the chaos and grow to overflowing. But, 'there is no "happily ever after" [as] the conflict... isn't resolved.' So the Middle Eastern church needs migrant workers not tourists from the West to pray for and encourage it to continue as a "light force" in the region. Christians in the West are thus called to read this book as an exercise in discipleship that will inform intelligent 'prayer...that can really make a difference'. Read on — and pray!
Claudette Fisher-Johnson, April 2005
Claudette Fisher-Johnson is a mother, housewife, graduate of London School of Theology and a former management consultant.Order from www.christianbookshops.org | Order from St Andrew's Bookshops
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