Assemblies in the Holy Land of ISRAEL Part 2

Autumn 2022
Written by George and Rosamond Khalil - Israel

The demographics of Israel and Palestine are quite complex! Israel has a population of 9.5million, 74.3% of whom are Jewish and 21% Arab of Palestinian origin. The majority of the Arab population is Muslim, with only 2% Christian, from which only a small percentage are evangelical/protestant. The Palestinian Territories, which include the West Bank and Gaza, have an Arab population of 5.3 million, only 2% of whom are Christian (mostly traditional). Sadly the Holy Land is renowned for political and violent conflict between ethnic and religious groups. This situation affects everyone in both countries, including the local churches. Believers face opposition and discrimination from their ethnic groups as well as from others.

There is a good relationship between the Arab and Jewish Messianic assemblies, but they tend to meet separately because of language. There are two Messianic assemblies, one in Jaffa/Tel Aviv and a large one in Haifa. They both face opposition from the Jewish Orthodox community and many other challenges. There are a number of other independent Messianic congregations thriving in the country. The three Arabic speaking assemblies are all in the north, Haifa, Ibileen and Nazareth. We face different challenges of being a minority of minorities, even in the Christian community, which is high mainly Catholic and Orthodox.

Pray for the local evangelical congregations in Israel and Palestine to be strong in faith and witness and resist Satan's attempts to bring disunity. Once a year, the congregations meet in a Galilee forest for a combined meeting. Jews, Muslims, and even Catholics face being ostracized or persecuted when they come to accept Christ and need the support of a strong fellowship. There are various organizations which help young people and reconciliation between ethnic groups.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the correspondence ministry mushroomed, and thousands studied the courses in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza. Two churches were planted in the Galilee because they were used in group Bible studies. However, the introduction of the internet and political upheavals led to a decline in interest, and in 2000, mail to the Palestinian areas came to a complete halt.

We prayed about how to reach the students, and so with the help of brothers from Germany, we developed a website so that people could study online. We launched the first Emmaus website, and of course, the gospel became available to Arabic speakers worldwide, including in many "closed" countries. We were so encouraged by the response and included books, articles, hymns and readers' letters on the website: One letter came from an Iraqi lady living in Saskatoon, Canada, who wanted to start a Bible study for Arab women using the courses we sent to her. The meeting grew to include men, and a number got saved. Today, an Arabic-speaking brother from a nearby assembly has taken this group on to lead and teach them. Praise the Lord for His provision!

We have had many encouraging letters from students all over the Middle East, from North Africa to the Emirates. Today the website is linked to a mobile App. "Emmaus Bible Courses" is available in many languages, including Arabic. Shawel manages the online studies in our Nazareth office, and we try to link up our students with local assemblies through our regional directors.

The demand for more courses grew with the expansion of the work to surrounding countries, so we developed a curriculum of three levels consisting of 12 courses each - evangelistic, basic discipleship and deeper, more advanced studies. Students are awarded a certificate on completion of each level. We also have added counselling, study books of the Bible and courses for children. The team in Nazareth does all the translation and editing work, and we also arrange the printing and shipping to various countries. In the last few years, Revival Movement Press in the UK has helped us tremendously by doing the printing for us.

The lockdowns have presented us with new challenges, of course, but the Lord prompted us to start making audio and video recordings of the courses and, more recently, daily devotions from William MacDonald's One Day at a Time. We post these on social media groups and have had a great response. A local Christian radio station reaches the whole of the Middle East, and another station in Lebanon broadcasts our recordings. Shawel and Yasmeen do these in our makeshift "studio"!

For years we have wanted to move out of our cramped office in the assembly to have a centre where we can display the courses, make recordings, conduct local seminars and Bible classes and have more storage space. In 2017 the Lord enabled us to purchase two floors of a large building in Nazareth. It was in need of serious renovation and compliance with the new government requirements. We have worked well on the interior to do the rewiring and plumbing, and a team from the UK came in 2020 to do the floor tiling. However, the pandemic has delayed obtaining a permit for the exterior work - stairs, lift, parking etc. Pray that it will be issued soon and that the Lord will provide for this project.

We also have a Bible club for local children, which consists of a Bible hour and other activities. We hold 2-day clubs at Christmas and Easter and four days in the summer. Most of the children are from traditional Christian backgrounds, and it allows us to make contact with the families.

We also have an online gift shop selling handmade products to help support local craftsmen and the ministry: Please support us with your purchases.

You can also find more information, donate and sign up for our quarterly newsletter on our English website

Most of all, we covet your prayers for the Lord to use the Emmaus Arabic courses to bring many souls to Christ, to help believers to grow in faith and for more assemblies to be planted throughout the Middle East.

Autumn 2022
Written by George and Rosamond Khalil - Israel