Category Archives: Israel

Suffering for the Lord – the Living Bread International Church in Jerusalem

I have been fascinated to learn about the Living Bread International Church, a non-denominational Christian ministry, with the main church in Jerusalem – providing services in several languages – and outreach offices in Gaza and Jericho.

The pastor, Karen Dunham, has an inspiring testimony of escaping the clutches of the Mafia in the US and then establishing a ministry distributing rice and Bibles to Palestinian refugees. From this has grown the church, with numerous outreach programs and worshippers from around the world.

She kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

Please tell me a little about yourself and your church.

I had no church background, and when the Mafia in the US tried to take my life – when I was 40 years old – the Lord revealed Himself to me and rescued me, and I have followed Him ever since. Early on He taught me to spend time with Him daily in worship and prayer and then do the work He has for me/us.

Our church is also registered as a non-governmental organization (NGO) in the land. We give out clothes and food to the poor. We are also presently working on establishing goat and bee farms throughout the land, together with the poor, in a “Milk and Honey” program.

In addition, our church is involved in reconciliation between Jews and Arabs, and we initiate projects that involve both peoples – Jews and Arabs. We have rescued dying children from the Gaza Strip and taken them to Asaaf Harofe hospital, and we have many other projects like this involving Jews and Arabs. Forgiveness workshops and peacemaking are part of our Good News workshops.

Koreans, Sri Lankans, Russians, Arabs and other nationalities all have services running at our center in Jerusalem.

Are you different from other churches in Israel?

Yes, we are very different in the outreach departments. We have many NGO programs and we spend time with people in the land. We have educational projects and programs that teach the Biblical history of the land. We also bring in tours to facilitate this and link visitors with the local people.

Our main operation is in the West bank cities of Nablus, Jericho, Gaza, Bethlehem and East Jerusalem. We love the appearing of the Lord and His plan for Israel. We must try to rescue the youth who are trapped in terror and teach them the ideology of the Good News of the Gospel.

Is it easy to be a Christian in Israel, or are there problems?

Most of the time our faith is our faith and we do not have problems. But for the last four months we have had a lot of trouble with Islamic militants/mafia in East Jerusalem. They came after us at Living Bread International Church and the police were very slow to make an arrest because the attackers are Arab Israelis, and we are foreigners and Christians. The police did not want to cause trouble within the Arab community, so they really did not do much to help us. If we were of the Islamic or Jewish faith we would have had much more support.

What is the background to this problem? 

My landlord discussed with some people the possibility of selling our location, where we have been for seven years. But when he refused to sell the property our Islamic neighbors decided to take it by force. They gassed us, beat me and hurt many people, and tried to terrorize us for months. It took 200 people coming from the nations and radical worship for 72 hours to break the stronghold. Right now there has been peace for three days. [Read the story here.]

What has been the response to these attacks?

It was amazing when some Israelis arrived to help me and this is when things began to change. My prayer all the time has been, “Oh that I may know this King and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings – being conformed to His very image.”

When I was lying on the ground with a woman praying over me – after being hit by the militants – I felt the resurrection power of the Lord lift me up and I could not stop praising HIM! I never felt any pain. I rejoiced that I was found worthy to suffer for the Gospel.

All through this tribulation, and even now in the sanctuary, at times feathers appear, or come out of the air. In our roughest moments, right after they hurt me, feathers appeared on the porch and on the communion bread and on the pulpit and on my bed, and this made us cry, as people from around the world sent us the words of Psalm 91:4 – “He will cover you with His feathers.”

It was and is still amazing.

Karen, thank you so much. May God continue to protect you and bless your amazing work.

What Would Jesus Say? Aramaic Language Revival in Israel

It’s been more than 10 years since I last wrote about Aramaic, the language of Jesus. I noted then the continuing persecution of the Christian Assyrian people of northern Iraq, who still spoke this tongue.

Conditions since have dramatically worsened, with the rise of Islamic State, which has launched a campaign of genocide against Christians. Many Assyrians have fled.

But now comes a rare piece of Mideast good news. A revival in Aramaic is occurring in, of all places, Israel.

Gush Halav – known in Arabic as Jish – is a small town in the Galilee Valley, in northern Israel. More than half the population are Maronite Christians, who still use Aramaic in their church liturgy, and even often speak it.

Since 2011, under the auspices of the Israeli Ministry of Education, Aramaic has been taught in the town’s schools.

And this year the Israeli government recognized the country’s 20,000 Aramaic people as a distinct nationality. The first child has just been registered as Aramean.

Not much happens in Israel without controversy, and some critics say the government’s move is an attempt to create splits between Muslim and Christian Arabs. Others say that the Aramaic language has little future, other than as a religious relic.

But, as Christians increasingly flee from the lands where their faith was born, in the face of murder or slavery, it is heartening to see a tiny part of the region where they are able to live in peace, and where their traditions are respected and encouraged.

Egyptian Coptic Christians Fly to Jerusalem for Easter

An interesting development in the Mideast – Egyptian Coptic Christians are flying to Jerusalem on an Easter pilgrimage. Previously they had been told by the late Pope Shenouda to stay away from the city while it remained under Israeli control.

According to Israel’s Y-Net News –

Some 50 Copts arrived in Israel on Thursday on a direct flight from Egypt to celebrate Monday of the third week of Easter, which takes place on April 15. The guests plan to tour holy sites in Jerusalem….This is just the second time since the signing of the Camp David Accords in 1979 that a group of Copts arrives in Israel from Egypt, mainly because of the ban.

 An Egyptian security source at the Cairo airport told Palestinian news agency Maan that additional groups would fly to Israel in the coming days, and that the total number of tourists could reach up to 4,000 people…Nevertheless, several senior Coptic Church officials have stressed in the past that the prohibition to visit Jerusalem was still valid and that there had been no decision to cancel it. As they did last year, church officials are threatening to punish anyone going to Jerusalem.

The Egypt Independent added –

Security sources at the Cairo International Airport said Air Sinai planned to construct an air bridge between Cairo and Tel Aviv to accommodate the pilgrims with four flights per day.

Persecuted Eritrean Christians Find A Home On An Israeli Kibbutz

By Martin Roth

Eritrea, bordering Ethiopia in North Africa, became Christian in the fourth century. Back then it was quite a major empire, the KIngdom of Aksum.

Today Christians in the country face extreme persecution according to Open Doors, which places Eritrea 10th on its depressing World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians suffer most for their faith.

Many Christians (and others) have been attempting to flee, and, amazingly, tens of thousands have made it on foot to Israel.

So from Israel comes a lovely story of two young Eritrean Christians who have found a place on a kibbutz.

“I had never heard of a place called Israel,” says [John] Fshaye, now almost 20, and a Christian who is thoroughly at home among the residents of Kibbutz Mishol in Upper Nazareth.

When he fled Senafe he had no plan other than not to get caught by the army. He managed to make contact with a group of 28 other young Eritreans who were also on the run from the military. They crossed the border to Ethiopia, and then walked on to Sudan, which involved at one point going three days without food or water.

Several members of the group died during this stretch. Having reached Egypt they carried on across the Sinai desert, and on a dark night more than three months after leaving Eritrea, they sneaked across the border into Israel.

Read the whole story to learn how John and a friend, Dawit Ogbai, have been unofficially adopted by a kibbutz family from Britain, who cite, as one of their reasons, “episodes from Jewish history — such as Jews’ reliance on righteous gentiles to take them in during the Holocaust.”

And the story ends:

Fshaye and Ogbai join in with Shabbat celebrations and festivals — and sometimes find that they have deep personal meaning. Fshaye says that Pesach Seders, which recount the ancient Israelite exodus from Egypt to Israel — the very journey that he made — have been especially emotional. “I feel like it’s my story,” he says.