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Amazement at the Christians for Israel Forum

Marijke Terlouw - 19 March 2019

Amazement, this is the word that best captures the recent Christians for Israel International Leaders Forum. Amazement about what is happening in Israel, amazement about what God is doing with the Jewish people. But also amazement about what the people involved in the Christians for Israel ministry are doing in support of Israel around the world.

From thirty five countries from all corners of the earth representatives of Christians for Israel came to Jerusalem at the beginning of March: Samoa, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, Brazil, Ukraine, and many more countries. It felt like a family reunion; sometimes meeting family members whom you’ve never met before. We had the opportunity to encourage each other with our personal testimonies, and furthermore support and inspire each other in the tasks that we have in our own countries to bring the message about Israel into the churches.

The Forum provided a lot of information – let’s call it a tool-box – that we could take home. We listened to Bible studies, lectures, had meetings with Israeli leaders and fascinating excursions.

Rev. Willem Glashouwer pointed towards the future and carefully warned to be cautious about predicting the future. ‘There is no order in events, it is not a jig-saw puzzle that you can put in a certain order. But read your Bible, in its entirety, and watch what is happening in the world. Schemes can block your view on what is happening, on the meaning of prophesies.’

The testimony of Arab pastor Steven Khoury touched a chord with many of the participants. From practical experience he knows that believing in the God of Israel means struggle and attack. ‘I thank God for Christians for Israel. From the beginning there was room for the Arabs. And therefore there is room for the message of love and mercy. It is very important for the Arab community that you are in contact with Arabs and work together. This disproves the impression many have that people who love Israel hate the Arabs.”

Steven Khoury was joined in an inspiring session by Rabbi David Nekrutman (Director of the Centre for Jewish- Christian Understanding and Cooperation), with whom he closely works to build Jewish-Christian cooperation and strengthen the Christian communities in Israel and the disputed territories. Together they testified to the importance of standing firm on God’s covenant faithfulness to the Jewish people, while remembering that the covenant of the land carries with it a responsibility to care for the non-Jews in the land.

Christians for Israel International’s new Executive Director Cornelis Kant provided an insightful overview of ‘replacement theology’ – how and why the early church developed the idea that God had turned His back on the Jewish people and the church replaces Israel as God’s favoured people. This kind of thinking underlies the theology of many mainstream Christians today, and has inspired the proponents of Palestinian Liberation Theology.

Anemone Rüger gave a moving account of her work caring for holocaust survivors in Ukraine together with our team Christians for Israel in Ukraine, and raising awareness of their plight in other countries, especially Germany. Today, many Jewish survivors of the massacres carried out on Ukrainian soil in WWII are living in poverty, too old to travel to Israel, and without family or loved ones to care for them.

Christians for Israel’s International Advisor Andrew Tucker spoke about the legal and political battle for Jerusalem and ended with a warning. ‘In San Remo, Italy, in 1920, it was decided that the Jews were allowed to return to Israel. A safe homeland was promised to them, but for the last hundred years the nations been doing everything to try not to keep that promise. God will judge the nations about this.’

Bible teacher and scholar Johannes Gerloff led a tour to Ramallah and the Biblical heartland of Samaria. Many of the participants of the Forum gazed in amazement while our bus passed the ‘border’ of the ‘disputed territories’, Judea and Samaria, without any problem. The media paints a picture of endless queues, but the reality is more positive. Our Israeli bus was by no means the only Israeli vehicle in Samaria. It is hard to understand that there is a refugee camp in the middle of the city of Ramallah. Amidst their Palestinian brethren, but still no part of the society.

The Forum was closed with prayer, a special time of intercession for each of the continents. For the challenges that people face in their countries. We all went home inspired and armed with lots of information and useful resources which we can share with Christians in our own countries: readers of the newspaper, people who come to listen to our lectures, conferences or other events in the time to come. Full of wonder we are waiting for what God will work in people’s hearts. And we pray that love for God’s people may continue to grow worldwide.

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