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.