Monday, 31 March 2014

Peace Pilgrimage to Syria

Peace Pilgrimage to Syria, is a civil movement of peace activists for providing humanitarian aid to Syria and strive to bring peace in the country as soon as possible. 

This movement has eminent personalities and peace activists from all over the world. This caravan after its presence in Iran will move towards Damascus on 9th April, with humanitarian aid which mainly consists of medical and pharmaceutical aids, to help and meet different groups of people and distribute the relief to the war stricken people of Syria. 

This convoy includes activists from countries such as Britain, Canada, Germany, Lebanon, Australia, Pakistan, India and Iran and they declare that:

·         This convoy is not affiliated with any of the parties involved in the Syrian conflict and it emphasizes on supporting peace and opposes violence in Syria and explicitly expresses that peace can be only achieved in Syria by dialogue and negotiations.
·         Any foreign intervention in Syria is condemned and only the Syrian people without any pressure from outside decide their own future.
·        Crimes committed in the name of religion by Takfiri extremist in Syria on religious minorities is condemned and we consider it necessary for governments of the region to stop sending arms and financial aids to parties and group involved in the violence.

In the end the members of this convoy invite other governments and people movements from various countries try to do their best so that relief reaches the war stricken people of Syria in every possible manner and in the shortest time frame.

See Press TV Report

5 April 2014


Christianity Explored in Arabic

Would you like to help make history?  South Sudanese Christians have asked for our help to fund the translation of the Christianity Explored course into Arabic.


One of our partners I have worked with in Juba writes,
"there is urgent need to translate the CE material to Arabic to benefit mainly those South Sudanese Christians who came from Arabic background. They are taking their discipleship seriously and they have great impact on other believers in South Sudan."

We need to raise $1,000 US Dollars (£600) to facilitate the translation of the course material by this Summer.   Already over $300 (£200) has been donated. You may contribute via Pay Pal here 

In August we hope to return to South Sudan and continue to train church leaders to use the course. If you would like to help make this possible, we would be pleased to hear from you. We are working with the charity Fields of Life to make this happen.


Here are photos of some of our adventures introducing Christianity Explored in Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and South Sudan.

Sieben Biblische Antworten auf Populäre Zionistische Thesen

Seven Biblical Answers to Zionist Assumptions
This is a simple four page introduction to the main biblical passages that answer and refute the most common Zionist assumptions about God’s purposes for Israel and the Church, based on the book, Zion's Christian Soldiers.

New German translation Sieben Biblische Antworten auf Populäre Zionistische Thesen

It is available as a pdf download
Download the Bible studies here.
Watch the video here

The Audio Book with Seminar Outlines
You can listen to or read six presentations based on the chapters of the book as well as print outlines useful for personal and group Bible study. A more comprehensive set of Bible studies useful for individual or groups based on this book has been produced for the film With God on our Side. These are available here.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Christ at the Checkpoint 3: Call to Action

Under the title "Your Kingdom Come" over six hundred followers of Christ representing more than twenty nationalities met at the third biennial "Christ at the Checkpoint" conference in Bethlehem from the 10th to the 14th of March 2014 to pray, worship, learn and discuss together the responsibility and role of the church in helping resolve the conflict and bringing peace, justice and equality to the Holy Land through following the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God.

During the week, participants listened to and engaged with Palestinian theologians and leaders who shared their perspective on the Kingdom of God. In addition, the conference was blessed by amazing contributions from international evangelicals, Messianic leaders, as well as others.

Subjects addressed included the nature of the Kingdom, relating to Islam in the context of the changes in the Middle East, the future of the Palestinian church, nonviolence, replacement theology, Christian Zionism, forgiveness, peacemaking, and how to love our neighbor.

Participants also had the opportunity to visit the checkpoint, Jerusalem and Hebron in order to be witness to some of the realities on the ground that are a direct challenge to peacemaking in the land and which set the context for some of the theological discussions.

Workshops included theological education, speaking on behalf of the Palestinian church, the important role women can play, confronting injustice nonviolently, engaging with the Muslim world, and reconciliation.

Participants also joined in solidarity with Palestinian Christians in Beit Jala who hold a weekly prayer meeting on their land under threat of confiscation because of the route of the Separation Barrier.

Participants were invited to adopt the Checkpoint Manifesto and be challenged to urgently:
  1. Take seriously the commandment of Jesus to "love your enemies."
  2. Pray for justice, peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians; Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
  3. Continue to advocate for justice, peace, equality and reconciliation until there is shalom-salaam in the land.
  4. Actively encourage others from the global evangelical community to come and fellowship with the local Palestinian and Israeli followers of Jesus, become aware of the current realities, and engage in creating a greater manifestation of the church and its peacemaking role in the Holy Land.
  5. Develop continuous and ongoing discussion, advocacy, and/or aworking groups that promote through education, activities, and different campaigns the Christ at the Checkpoint manifesto.
  6. Support the work of Bethlehem Bible College and other ministries that are involved in peace, justice, and reconciliation.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Through My Enemy's Eyes

I am delighted to commend Salim Munayer and Lisa Loden's new book, Through My Enemy's Eyes: Envisioning Reconciliation in Israel-Palestine.

This excellent book addresses the universal theological dimension of reconciliation in the context of the Israeli Messianic Jewish and Palestinian Christian divide. The struggle for reconciliation is painful and often extremely difficult for all.

Sadly there are some on both sides who will not be pleased with this book. They have an exclusive political and theological agenda which denies the hopes and aspirations of the other. Whether intentionally or otherwise they thwart the gospel of reconciliation at every opportunity because their faith is defined in racial terms. They seek to undermine the credibility of those like Salim and Lisa working for justice and peace by casting aspersions on our motives and integrity. To their shame they are undermining the work of Jesus Christ and they know who they are.

That is why I warmly commend Lisa and Salim for their courage in writing this book and for showing us the way forward. I hope to see copies available at the Christ at the Checkpoint conference this weekend.

Endorsements

"There is no way you can agree with every page in this book even its two authors cannot do that. Yet there is no way you can read it without visiting your Samaria and facing the challenge of joining Jesus in building new bridges of understanding and love with your so called “theological enemy”. Reading this book is a purifying adventure. Parts of it will make you angry and other parts will make you happy. How can your anger and happiness meet together and reconcile? The two authors pave the way courageously for leading us into this adventure presenting a theology of reconciliation and embodying it in their common work." Yohanna Katanacho, Ph.D., Academic Dean of Bethlehem Bible College and Galilee Bible College

"Salim Munayer and Lisa Loden provide a provocative, thoughtful and biblical reflection on one of those most challenging situations in the world — The Israeli – Palestinian Conflict. I encourage you to read this book with an open mind and heart. As Christians we need to on the forefront of peace-building and reconciliation. May this new book from Dr. Munayer and Lisa Loden contribute to this worthy and important goal." Geoff Tunnicliffe, Chief Executive Officer/Secretary General, World Evangelical Alliance

"Lisa Loden and Salim Munayer prove in this book that the gospel truth of Ephesians 2 and 3 can actually be practised at the costly and challenging personal level required by Romans 14 and 15. In a world that wants to see only one side of every conflict (and this one especially), where people believe only their own propaganda, and where many Christians inhabit hard shells of theological, political and apocalyptic certainties, this book is a bravely different voice. Rather, it is two voices talking carefully, honestly, graciously, respectfully and truthfully to each other – as sisters and brothers in the Messiah should. This is a unique conversation in which each partner, Messianic Jewish Israeli, and Palestinian Christian, gives full expression to all that they are and think and feel about themselves and the conflict in their land. We see clearly, with a wealth of well-documented information, how and why the same shared history is perceived, felt and told in the form of very different stories on both sides. We learn how the Bible is read through different eyes – by those who are equally committed to live under its truth and authority. We are treated to some stretching theological debate and some honest self-criticism. But above all we come to share the hope and courage that shines through the pain and struggle. We are assured that if God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, then God will be in and with those who, in the power of the cross and resurrection of the Messiah, seek reconciliation within the body of Christ and who, as peace-makers, will be called children of God." Christopher J. H. Wright, International Ministries Director, Langham Partnership.

"The Palestinian-Israeli divide may be the most intractable conflict of our time. With great courage, honestly facing the turbulent political, historical, and theological landscape which authentic reconciliation must engage, Loden and Munayer open up fresh space in beginning with Israeli Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians. By candidly facing obstacles and embracing gifts in their respective communities, they model a fresh Scriptural vision for reconciliation grounded in truth-telling, empathy, mutuality, unlikely friendship, and no excuses. Given the divides between their communities, this book is a remarkable achievement, a cry of hope from the land where Jesus walked." Chris Rice, Director, Center for Reconciliation, Duke Divinity School, Durham, NC, U.S.

"Lisa Loden and Salim Munayer, experienced long-term practitioners and participants in Reconciliation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, have produced a ground-breaking book. For the first time we have a serious attempt to span the differences, both theological, political and personal, that have divided Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians, setting them at odds with each other in the context of this intractable violent conflict. Nowhere is an understanding and outworking of the reconciling love of the Messiah more greatly needed, and this book shows the way this can be done, by seeing the issues through the eyes of the other. Together they help us see the way forward, following in the path of Jesus, the Prince of Peace." Richard Harvey, Associate Lecturer, Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies, All Nations Christian College and Senior Researcher, Rosen Centre, Tel Aviv, Israel

From the Introduction

Few conflicts in the world command attention like that of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For Palestinian Christians and Israeli Messianic Jews this entangled dispute engages a variety of important subjects: theology, identity, eschatology, ethics, and the interpretation of Scripture. These issues shape the convictions of individual believers and congregations who try to make sense of the conflict and its relationship to Scripture. In spite of our own challenges, Israeli Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians can be agents of hope within our historic, national, and regional conflict. This makes the process of reconciliation between our communities all the more precious to God.

Issues of theology, land, politics and justice are not mere academic subjects for our communities, but rather, existential realities in the midst of this conflict. We are believers who have committed our lives to God and believe in the authority and relevance of Scripture. Further, we believe God calls us to be ministers of reconciliation for his sake. As we, a Palestinian Christian and an Israeli Messianic Jew, live together in the land of our ancestors: the land of the patriarchs, prophets, and our Lord’s birth, death and resurrection, we see each other as brother and sister in our Messiah. We have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. For us this is a sacred trust and a personal calling. In the writing of this book, we are expressing what it means to actively live out the reality of reconciliation. From our vastly different personal histories, perspectives, and community affiliations, we have struggled to be gracious to one another and unbiased in our presentation.

Salim Munayer is on the faculty of Bethlehem Bible College, Bethlehem, Palestine, and Director of Musalaha Ministry of Reconciliation, Jerusalem, Israel.

Lisa Loden is on the faculty of Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary, Nazareth, Israel, and Director of Advancing Professional Excellence, Israel.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Christ at the Checkpoint: March 2014



I am really excited to be attending the Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem in March. Its being hosted by Bethlehem Bible College and brings together believers from all over the world to enjoy fellowship with their Jewish and Palestinian brothers and sisters.

CAC is evidence that justice, peace and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive. CAC is rooted in a love for and desire to serve Jesus, is founded on a firm biblical foundation and provides tangible evidence of authentic practical spirituality.

You can still register to attend or join in the sessions by live feed daily.

Christ at the Checkpoint 2014 Conference Mission:

To Challenge Evangelicals To Take Responsibility To Help Resolve the Conflicts in Israel-Palestine By Engaging With the Teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God.

Christ at the Checkpoint 2014 Conference Objectives

1. To explore the challenges that stand against fulfilling the vision of the kingdom of God today in Palestine/Israel, and to consider the positive and negative attitudes and contributions of Christians in the last few years towards the conflicts in the region.

2. To discuss the theological and practical implications of the inauguration of the kingdom of God in the land – and what this means in times of conflict.

3. To study and unpack the teachings of Jesus and explore how they contribute towards achieving peace and justice in Palestine/Israel.

4. To consider the rise of religious radicalism in the region and how it affects the conflict, and to seek together a biblical response towards this rise.

5. To motivate and encourage Evangelicals worldwide to actively seek to contribute to achieving peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

In addition, the four main objectives of the Christ at the Checkpoint conferences are:

1. Empower and encourage the Palestinian church role in achieving peace, through building trust & respect between the peoples of the land, removing hatred, practicing tolerance and acceptance, and being able to appreciate and understand the others.

2. Discuss the realities of the injustices in the Palestinian Territories and create awareness of the obstacles to reconciliation and peace.

3. Create a platform for serious engagement with Christian Zionism and an open forum for ongoing dialogue between all positions within the Evangelical theological spectrum.

4. Motivate participants to become advocates for the reconciliation work of the church in Palestine/Israel and its ramifications for the Middle East and the world.




The conference will build on the success of the first and the second Christ at the Checkpoint conferences which were held in 2010 and 2012.

The mission of Christ at the Checkpoint is to challenge Evangelicals to take responsibility to help resolve the conflicts in Israel- Palestine by engaging with the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God.

Please visit our website www.christatthecheckpoint.com to read more about the conference, confirmed speakers, schedule module, field trips, registration & accommodation for individuals and groups.

Photos of the two previous conferences may be viewed here

Saturday, 15 February 2014

What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?

‘What are we to make of Jesus Christ?’ This is a question, which has, in a sense, a frantically comic side. For the real question is not what are we to make of Christ, but what is He to make of us? The picture of a fly sitting deciding what it is going to make of an elephant has comic elements about it. But perhaps the questioner meant what are we to make of Him in the sense of ‘How are we to solve the historical problem set us by the recorded sayings and acts of this Man?’ This problem is to reconcile two things. On the one hand you have got the almost generally admitted depth and sanity of His moral teaching, which is not very seriously questioned, even by those who are opposed to Christianity. In fact, I find when I am arguing with very anti-God people that they rather make a point of saying, ‘I am entirely in favour of the moral teaching of Christianity’ — and there seems to be a general agreement that in the teaching of this Man and of His immediate followers, moral truth is exhibited at its purest and best. It is not sloppy idealism; it is full of wisdom and shrewdness. The whole thing is realistic, fresh to the highest degree, the product of a sane mind. That is one phenomenon.

The other phenomenon is the quite appalling nature of this Man’s theological remarks. You all know what I mean, and I want rather to stress the point that the appalling claim, which this Man seems to be making, is not merely made at one moment of His career. There is, of course, the one moment, which led to His execution. The moment at which the High Priest said to Him, ‘Who are you?’ ‘I am the Anointed, the Son of the uncreated God, and you shall see me appearing at the end of all history as the judge of the universe.’ But that claim, in fact, does not rest on this one dramatic moment. When you look into his conversation you will find this sort of claim running throughout the whole thing. For instance, He went about saying to people, ‘I forgive your sins’. Now it is quite natural for a man to forgive something you do to him. Thus if somebody cheats me out of five pounds it is quite possible and reasonable for me to say, ‘Well, I forgive him, we will say no more about it.’ What on earth would you say if somebody had done you out of five pounds and I said, ‘That is all right, I forgive him? Then there is a curious thing, which seems to slip out almost by accident. On one occasion this Man is sitting looking down on Jerusalem from the hill about it and suddenly in comes an extraordinary remark — ‘I keep on sending you prophets and wise men.’ Nobody comments on it. And yet, quite suddenly, almost incidentally, He is claiming to be the power that all through the centuries is sending wise men and leaders into the world. Here is another curious remark: in almost every religion there are unpleasant observances like fasting. This Man suddenly remarks one day, ‘No one need fast while I am here.’ Who is this man who remarks one day, ‘No one need fast while I am here.’ Who is this Man who remarks that His mere presence suspends all normal rules? Who is the person who can suddenly tell the School they can have a half-holiday? Sometimes the statements put forward the assumption that He, the Speaker, is completely without sin or fault. This is always the attitude. ‘You, to whom I am talking, are all sinners,’ and He never remotely suggests that this same reproach can be brought against Him. He says again, ‘I am the begotten of the One God, before Abraham was, I am,’  And remember what the words ‘I am’ were in Hebrew. They were the name of God, which must not be spoken by any human being, the name which it was death to utter.

Well, that is the other side. On the one side clear, definite moral teaching. On the other, claims which, if not true, are those of a megalomaniac, compared with whom Hitler was the most same and humble of men. There is no halfway house and there is no parallel in other religions. If you had gone to Buddha and asked him: ‘Are you the son of Brahma?’ he would have said, ‘My son, you are still in the vale of illusion.’ If you had gone to Socrates and asked, ‘Are you Zeus?’ he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohammed and asked, ‘Are you Allah?’ he would first have rent his clothes and then cut your head off. If you had asked Confucius, ‘Are you Heaven?’ I think he would have probably replied, ‘Remarks which are not in accordance with nature are in bad taste.’ The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion, which undermines the whole mind of man. If you think you are a poached egg, when you are not looking for a piece of toast to suit you you may be sane, but if you think you are God, there is no chance for you. We may note in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met him. He produced mainly three effects — Hatred — Terror — Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval.

What are we to do about reconciling the two contradictory phenomena? One attempt consists in saying that the man did not really say these things; but that His followers exaggerated the story, and so the legend grew up that he had said them. This is difficult because His followers were all Jews; that is, they belonged to that Nation which of all others was most convinced that there was only one God — that there could not possibly be another. It is very odd that this horrible invention about a religious leader should grow up among the one people in the whole earth least likely to make such a mistake. On the contrary we get the impression that none of His immediate followers or even of the New Testament writers embraced the doctrine at all easily.

Another point is that on that view you would have to regard the accounts of the Man as being legends. Now, as a literary historian, I am perfectly convinced that whatever else the Gospels are they are not legends. I have read a great deal of legend and I am quite clear that they are not the same sort of thing. They are not artistic enough to be legends. From an imaginative point of view they are clumsy, they don’t work up to things properly. Most of the life of Jesus is totally unknown to us, as is the life of anyone else who lived at that time, and no people building up a legend would allow that to be so. Apart from bits of the Platonic dialogues, there is no conversation that I know of in ancient literature like the Fourth Gospel. There is nothing, even in modern literature, until about a hundred years ago when the realistic novel came into existence. In the story of the woman taken in adultery we are told Christ bent down and scribbled in the dust with His finger. Nothing comes of this. No one has ever based any doctrine on it. And the art of inventing little irrelevant details to make an imaginary scene more convincing is a purely modern art. Surely the only explanation of this passage is that the thing really happened? The author put it in simply because he had seen it.

Then we come to the strangest story of all, the story of the Resurrection. It is very necessary to get the story clear. I heard a man say, ‘The importance of the Resurrection is that is gives evidence of survival, evidence that the human personality survives death.’ On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men, the difference being that in Christ’s case we were privileged to see it happening. This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought. Something perfectly new in the history of the universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door, which had always been locked, had for the very first time been forced open. This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival. I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost-survival. I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost-survival. On the contrary, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion, Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost. The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection as something totally different and new. The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death; they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe. Something new had appeared in the universe: as new as the first coming of organic life. This Man, after death, does not get divided into ‘ghost’ and ‘corpse’. A new mode of being has arisen. That is the story. What are we going to make of it?

The question is, I suppose, whether any hypothesis covers the facts so well as the Christian hypothesis. That hypothesis is that God has come down into the created universe, down to manhood — and come up again, pulling it up with Him. The alternative hypothesis is not legend, nor exaggeration, nor the apparitions of a ghost. It is either lunacy or lies. Unless one can take the second alternative (and I can’t) one turns to the Christian theory.

‘What are we to make of Christ?’ There is no question of what we can make of Him; it is entirely a question of what He intends to make of us. You must accept or reject the story.

The things he says are very different from what any other teacher has said. Others say, ‘This is the truth about the universe. This is the way you ought to go,’ but He says, ‘I am the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.’ He says, ‘No man can reach absolute reality, except through Me. Try to retain your own life and you will be inevitably ruined. Give yourself away and you will be saved.; He says, ‘If you are ashamed of Me, if, when you hear this call, you turn the other way, I also will look the other way when I come again as God without disguise. If anything whatever is keeping you from God and from me, whatever it is, throw it away. If it is your eye, pull it out. If it is your hand, cut it off. If you put yourself first you will be last. Come to Me everyone who is carrying a heavy load, I will set that right. Your sins, all of them, are wiped out, I can do that. I am Re-birth, I am Life. Eat ME, drink Me, I am your Food. And finally, do not be afraid, I have overcome the whole Universe.’ That is the issue.

From: "God in the Dock" — C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

London Declaration by Bahrain's Friends

Abrar House, Edgeware, London: 10th February 2014

We, the undersigned, have followed the events in Bahrain over the past three years, and have decided to issue this statement in support of the people of Bahrain. We have become acquainted with the various resolutions, statements, reports and appeals issued by several of the World’s political and human rights bodies and formed the opinion that unless fundamental changes take place in Bahrain, the domestic and regional stability will be threatened by the continued denial of the rights of the Bahraini people. We have, thus, agreed on the following demands:
  1. The people of Bahrain have conducted the most peaceful revolution in the Arab world, the longest and the least covered by international media.
  2. That the people of Bahrain have suffered immensely at the hands of the ruling Al Khalifa family and treated in the most inhumane ways. This treatment must cease immediately.
  3. The Western powers have largely ignored the pleas by the Bahrainis for an end to the political, economic, security and military support granted by them to the Bahraini regime, but to no avail.
  4. The double standards in dealing with the Arab Spring revolts was clearly manifested by the Western stands towards the Bahraini Revolution. Despite the enormous human rights violations, Bahraini rulers are received regularly by the UK Government, and granted unlimited security support against the people of Bahrain.
  5. There are currently hundreds of recommendations issued by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Investigation (BICI), the Human Rights Council, the European Parliament, the UK Foreign Relations Committee and other human rights bodies. None of the essential recommendations have been implemented.
In light of the above, we resolve that:
  1. We fully support the people of Bahrain’s endeavour to reform their political system. We accept their right for self-determination and choice of their government system, to write their own constitution and agree on a schedule for full democratic transformation.
  2. We call on Western Governments, especially the UK, to link normal relations and assistance to implementation of the said recommendations, especially those seeking to end torture, unfair trials, discrimination and political naturalisation.
  3. We call for the UN Special Rapporteurs to be admitted to Bahrain and work freely to limit the endemic human rights violations. Of particular significance is to allow Mr Juan Mendez, the Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit Bahrain as a matter of urgency.
  4. In light of the misuse by the Bahraini government of the security assistance given by UK, USA, we call on London and Washington to suspend any security or military cooperation until the regime is fully reformed.
  5. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the political prisoners especially Bahrain 13 and human rights activists especially Nabeel Rajab.
  6. We urge the UK media to impartially cover the events of Bahrain and highlight the serious human rights violations and the daily political strife on the streets of Bahrain.