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By Natalie Wisely, World Vision Advocacy Coordinator, Middle East
When I visited Jerusalem, I had the opportunity to get to know two incredible women — both of whom are Arab Christians but with very different testimonies. One converted to Christianity after having a dream by which Jesus healed her of a physical disability. The other comes from a family from the old part of the city that can trace their lineage and faith back to the time of Jesus.
When I returned to the United States and told people of these incredible women and their stories, I frequently heard one of two questions in reply: “Not all Arab Christians are recent converts?” or the even more straightforward question, “There are Arab Christians?”
It is a tragedy how many Christians in America are unaware of the existence of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. While some Arab Christians have moving stories of conversion, others come from families that have chosen to follow Jesus for decades, or even centuries. But no matter when their faith began, this steadfast group of believers seeks to live according to Jesus’ calling by promoting peace, justice, and reconciliation.
Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, the Christian population in the Middle East is rapidly dwindling. Some have fled conflict and persecution, while others have left to pursue economic and education opportunities in other parts of the world. However, I believe those who remain are “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16) to the region.
One such individual is Daoud Nassar. He and his family run an organization called Tent of Nations at their historic family farm in Bethlehem. In seeking to live out Jesus’ call to love both neighbor and enemy, their mission is to bring together people of different cultures in order to build bridges that will allow for greater understanding, reconciliation, and peace.
It is encouraging to know that despite the constant news of chaos and violence in the Middle East, there are still believers there who are striving to live like Jesus. Nonetheless, this is often very difficult, and I believe it is important to pray for God’s strength for our fellow believers.
With this in mind, I invite you to join me in communal prayer through the website Prayers for Peace. Focused specifically on the Holy Land, this prayer-centered website provides all followers of Christ the opportunity to come together before God in supplication for peace and justice. It also gives you the opportunity to learn more about other peace-building organizations in the Holy Land like Tent of Nations.
Instead of becoming frustrated when peace negotiations falter or becoming fearful of the threat of conflict, I hope you will join me in turning to the Prince of Peace and asking for His guidance and protection for everyone in the region, including our Arab brothers and sisters in Christ, as they daily live out the teachings of Jesus in the land where the gospel began.