Trusting God to Bring Whom He wills

Trusting God to Bring Whom He Wills

On Saturday, April 28th and on Saturday, May 5th, NAE held two days of workshops focusing on Islam by Dr. Ruth Lyons and having some fun and ministry by a ventriloquist, Kerry Miller who is prayerfully supported and assisted by his wife, Terry.

Pastors Woodrow (Woody) and Trish, located in Chillicothe, OH. at God’s Community Church, and Pastor Shannon and his wife Jen and Pastor Donna Bevels, located at First Church of God, in Farmington, MO. were all instrumental in making both of these events happen. All of them found in the process of planning these events that they encountered in one way or another opposition and setbacks but persevered. They could have quit!  Neither certainly gained anything monetarily by hosting the events, but they made a difference in their communities and results will be evident in Heaven!

We know that there had been over a period of time praying for God to bring those who should be there and we believe He did! It was evident in each event by the end. For both of the presenters, it is not about numbers, but individuals and relationships. In each event, we knew that those who came went away having “got it”! In other words, they went away with the intention to make more of an impact from now on.

What exactly does this mean? Well, for some this meant that through their lives in their daily routine, reaching out to their Muslim colleague or neighbor or contact and for others it meant praying more fervently for God to reveal himself through dreams, and for individuals to learn about Christ one way or another, and for all to be full of more faith to believe God can bring hope to a broken world and not live in fear or be afraid of that which is different.

At the gathering in Missouri, they had asked for pre-registration and they had not had one single registration by the night before the event. It was so bad, they had phone calls from people who were saying they could not be there! I must confess that after hearing this I just prayed to the Lord and said: “Lord, if it is your will then let nobody come tomorrow and I guess you want me to have a day off.”
The next morning everything was set and ready to begin at 9.00 and at about 9.10 a van with “Jesus loves you” written in large letters on the sides of the vehicle, pulled into the parking lot and a woman was dropped off. She had come from a nearby town because she wanted to learn more about how to reach Muslims. She was a pastor’s wife of an interdenominational church in a town a half hour or so away. She was a woman filled with the Holy Spirit and who was determined to let God use her how He wanted and who would definitely share with others what she learned from the event. We had a precious time of fellowship with her and gave her a private workshop for 4 hours! She left ready to do something with what she had learned.
In both of these events, we believe God brought who He wanted there and hearts were touched and challenged and the world will be a different place as these individuals impact more lives through their fervent prayers and personal outreach in showing love, respect and building relationships with those who are different from them and are spiritually lost.

Thank you to both of our host churches for all the preparation and organization and for caring.

Knock, Knock, Who is there?

Knock, Knock, Who is there?

The United States has become home for millions of Muslims in our generation. While I was home on furlough this past summer as I visited different churches I had people say to me more than once, “A Muslim family live down the street from us. ..” or “There is a Muslim working in our office.”

One story that remains clearly in my mind is the one Christy, a woman at a church shared with me about a mom and her son who were her neighbors. The mom and son are Muslims. “Ayse seems friendly and her son, Ali loves to skateboard and play computer games with my son,” says Christy. She adds, “Ayse dresses in western clothes and is raising her son herself. We thought we’d invite Ali to Sunday School and explained to Ayse that we were Christians.’ Ali gave me his home phone number and I called his mom, but she was not home. I tried again a few days later.”
Reaching others means to keep trying. Don’t give up. Don’t get cold feet! Reaching out, showing respect, and building relationships pave the way to share your faith with a Muslim. Though there may be differences culturally, socially and in language, love is a universal language. This website aims to help the reader understand Islam and not buy into the stereotype ideas.

Here are a few common obstacles you may encounter:
Some Muslims may have some misunderstanding about “Evangelical Christians”.

After 9-11, many Muslims believe that Americans dislike them Muslims.
Islam is more than a religion and our message should extend beyond the theological differences between Islam and Christianity.

The Apostle Paul wrote:
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17) It’s best to just begin with building a relationship and just giving a person the New Testament or a Scripture portion such as the Book of Mark.

God is sending the world to us – the American church – and we should not miss this opportunity. Some of us have neighbors who have come from half way around the world. Now they are on our door step!
Every lay person in the pew has the opportunity to share and make a difference!

Unsure how to begin to start a conversation?

Donna Thomas has written a book just for you! Learn more and visit her website at: www.cvministries.org

If you have questions about how to relate or share with a Muslim you can also write to Ruth Lyons at ruthaslan@aol.com and ask her or start a discussion on the Facebook page for National Association of Evangelism.

Check out these International Ministries for More Information:

Fouad Masri
President / CEO
Crescent Project

888-446-5457 x122
www.crescentproject.tv
www.crescentproject.org

www.unlockthetruth.net

or

Ravi Zacharias, International Ministries

Home


Intervarsity , International Student Ministry (ISM)
http://www.intervarsity.org/ism

The Gospel and the Power of Night (27th Night of Ramadan/Fasting)

The Gospel and the Night of Power

Ryan Keating (A friend and colleague in Eurasia wrote this informative piece.)

“Lo! We revealed it on the Night of Power. Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Night of Power is! The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees. (That night is) Peace until the rising of the dawn.” (Qur’an, Sura al-Qadr: 97)

Islam teaches that the entire Qur’an, the Word of Allah, was “lowered” or “sent down” to earth from the highest level of heaven to be revealed to Muhammad piece by piece. The night that commemorates this “lowering” is called Laylat al-Qadr (Kadir Gecesi in Turkish), or “The Night of Power,” and it is observed during the last ten days of Ramadan, the month-long fast in Islam. The concept of the Night of Power offers significant theological bridges for sharing the gospel with Muslims and since many Muslims are particularly focused on their spiritual lives during this time, they may be especially receptive to hear our perspective on our relationship with God.

Ramadan and the Qur’an

The Qur’an makes an important connection between fasting during Ramadan and the revelation of the Word of Allah: “In the month of Ramadan the Koran was revealed, a book of guidance for mankind with proofs of guidance distinguishing right from wrong. Therefore whoever of you is present in that month let him fast…” (Qur’an, Sura al-Baqara: 2.185)

According to tradition, Muhammad had been fasting and praying in a cave during the month of Ramadan (a month on the Arabic lunar calendar) when an angel appeared to him and commanded him to recite the things that Allah revealed to him. While it seems that Muhammad was already in the habit of fasting during Ramadan, it is the beginning of the revelation of the Qur’an during this month which established fasting as a Muslim requirement. Muslims believe that the Qur’an is eternal and uncreated; as the very speech of Allah it has always existed in heaven exactly as we have it in the Arabic text today. Allah sent the entire text down to earth via the angel Gabriel on the night that the first verses were revealed to Muhammad, and over the next 23 years the rest of the verses were given to Muhammad as the proper circumstances presented themselves in the life of the prophet. The Qur’an itself is considered the greatest miracle of Islam and there are many miracle stories associated with the process of its revelation and preservation as well.

Fasting during Ramadan has become one of the five “Pillars” of Islam, a basic requirement of all Muslims who are able to fulfill it. From sunrise to sunset during this month-long ritual, Muslims abstain completely from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual relations. As the call to prayer sounds from the mosque every evening the fast is broken and families usually share a meal together. Mosques are particularly well attended during this month, especially on Friday evenings when a special sermon is delivered. Many Muslims who don’t fulfill their religious obligations during the rest of the year still find themselves fasting and participating in prayer and other rituals during this time.

The Mystery of the Night of Power

The Hadith explains that the exact night on which the revelation began, and therefore the exact date of the Night of Power is a mystery. Muhammad is reported as saying that he once knew the exact date but that Allah “caused him to forget it.” (Sahih Bukhari 32.233)

Several other Hadith accounts seem to contradict themselves with regard to the exact date. In one tradition Muhammad explains that it is on one of the last ten nights of Ramadan (Sahih Bukhari

32.237); in other tradition he says that it is to be found “in one of the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan” (Sahih Bukhari 32.234); another account narrows the date down to either the 21st , 23rd, or 25th night of Ramadan (Sahih Bukhari 32.238 ); yet another has Muhammad teaching it falls on either the 25 th , 27 th , and 29th (Sahih Bukhari 32.240); and one account offers the night of the 24

th as the true date (Sahih Bukhari 32.239) Obviously, the common denominator in these traditions is that the Night of Power falls sometime during the last ten nights of Ramadan. On the other hand, particularly in Turkey, the night of the 27th has popularly become recognized as the official night and many Muslims commemorate it on this night.

Observing the Night of Power

Apart from the confusion about the exact date, the Hadith accounts are unanimous that Muslims are to “seek” the Night of Power in order to benefit from the unique opportunity for blessing and forgiveness. As the Qur’an teaches in the sura named for the Night of Power, worship offered on this night has the value of one thousand months of worship. The Hadith further clarifies that: “Whoever established prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven…” (Sahih Bukhari 31.125) Since it is on this night that Allah has come closest to humanity by sending down his Word, Muslims believe that they have greater access to Allah on this night and that he is more likely to bless and respond to their petitions. For this reason many Muslims spend one or more nights in prayer and reading at the mosque or in their homes. Muhammad himself is reported to have practiced itikaf, the tradition of remaining in the mosque for the duration of the last ten days and nights of Ramadan; and some Muslims still practice this, leaving the mosque only for emergencies. In this way, Muslims can be sure that they have succeeded in observing the Night of Power since they have prayed every night on which it might fall. Other Muslims choose one or two nights to pray and recite diligently in the mosque. This happens particularly on the 27th night of Ramadan. Still others have the Qur’an recited throughout the nightQu

Shreveport, LA IMPACT Event September 8-10, 2016 Join US!

IMPACT OUTREACH EVENT (IOE) – – Don’t Miss it!
Dates: 9/8-9/10/16 (Thursday evening, September 8 – Saturday AM, September 10)

The National Association of Evangelism (NAE) invites everyone who is interested in having more of an impact and sharing their faith with others to join us. Also you can learn more about the role of technology, ventriloquism and lots more …. Join us for an exciting and practical three-day NAE event hosted at Oakmont Church of God in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Cost for IOE (5 meals included): Registration: $65.00 Early Registration: $59.00 Students ½ off $32.50 Special prices for hotels: $59.00-$94.00 per night
Find us on Facebook: The National Association of Evangelism CHOG

NAE CONFERENCE PRESENTERS & TOPICS:
Fouad Masri, *Ruth Lyons, Donna Thomas, Kerry Joe Miller,
James Johnman, Jean Hartley, Noelle Huether and Lila Clay.

Here is a glimpse of what our presenters will be sharing:

Fouad Masri – Fouad will be giving three presentations on Thursday PM & Friday AM –
Session 1: Violence and Hope in the Middle East: ISIS, Islam, and Jesus
Who are the Jihadists and why do we need to know about militant Islam? What does Islam say about the violence in the Middle East? Despite the crushing realities happening in this part of the world, God is working. Come and listen to what Jesus is doing among Muslims in these dark times and find your role in sharing the story of hope to Muslims.
Session 2: The Quran, Islam, & the Gospel
Learn about the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam, and its relationship to Muslims. Come and learn how you can tell the story of Jesus in an effective way.
Session 3: Speaking Like Jesus: Sharing Your Faith with Muslims
Communication between Christians and Muslims tends to hit a dead end. Come and learn from our Savior’s example how to tell the story of salvation to Muslims.

* Ruth Lyons: The Middle East: Land of revolts, retreats and revivals. Wondering how and why situations have developed in the land where Christianity began? Ruth will share from her 36 years of residence and ministry how some churches flourish and others face oppression and persecution. (*pseudonym)
Donna Thomas: Grief and the Lord’s Gift. Ever think this? “My spouse is gone. What do I do now?” There is hope for today and tomorrow. Donna will share advice and tips from life experience about dealing with grief and loss.

Kerry Joe Miller: Sharing Hope, Laughter, and Inspiration around the World. (Ventriloquist). Our purpose will be to encourage us all to be an “evangelist” in our community and surrounding areas.

Jim Johnman: Reaching Hispanics in the United States through Evangelism and Church Planting. This is a great opportunity today for the church to evangelize and reach out to the largest minority in the United States. How to effectively reach the Spanish language people for Christ will be our focus in our conference.

Jean Hartley: The IRS and its Impact on Your Church. Many churches fail to fulfill the terms and conditions needed for exclusion from taxable income. Jean will discuss points churches must do to make tax compliance a priority. There will be time for FAQs.

Noelle Huether: Using Your Website to Have an Impact. In this session learn how you can have a greater impact to a first time viewer, how to obtain repeat visitors, how to promote evangelism, and what features should be on your site. How to make your site more secure will also be discussed.

Lila Clay: HRM, What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You? Learn about the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM), this evangelistic cult is growing within the United States. Lila will expose the dangers of this growing movement within our culture and teach you how to counter its deception. Learn how to witness to your people before they get trapped in the lie.

Visit our Facebook page for more details. Currently our website is under construction.

National Association of Evangelism – Who are we?
NAE Officers: NAE Board Members: Consultants:
Ruth Lyons (Pres.) Donna Bevels (Chair) James Johnman
Kathy Dykes Brumley (V.Pres.) Woodrow Wilson Gary Kendall
Connie Cissna (Secretary) Lila Clay
Jean Hartley (Treasurer) Connie Cissna
Yoshi Hosoda

Visit the piece in ARTICLES in category to learn more details on topics to be presented……

Brother “Billy Franks” laid to rest -one of the earliest members of NAE has passed away

Also we will broadcast His memorial service LIVE on Thursday April 28, 2016 at 11am C.S.T. at
www.oakmontlive.org
oakmontlive.org

Brother Franks (Billy) was one of the early evangelist involved with the association and in his later years encouraged us “younger” folk who wanted to share Christ with us. He will be deeply missed.

Brother Franks (Billy) was one of the early evangelist involved with the association and in his later years encouraged us “younger” folk who wanted to share Christ with us. He will be deeply missed.

Reverend Doctor William D. “Brother Billy” Franks, Sr.
February 25, 1926 – April 24, 2016

William “Brother Billy” Franks went home to be with his Savior on Sunday April 24, 2016 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 90 years old. Funeral Services will be held Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 11 a.m. at Oakmont Church of God, 5925 West 70th Street, Shreveport, (318) 687-5243. Visitation will be held at Oakmont Church on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 from 5 to 8 p.m. Interment will be held at Forrest Park West Cemetery immediately following the service on Thursday.

Brother Billy was born on February 25th, 1926 in Cedar Grove, Louisiana. He was the youngest child of George Watson and Pearl Galloway Franks.

At a very early age he attended the 62nd Street Church of God and was saved while attending a church camp at the age of 12. He attended Fairfield Elementary School and graduated from C.E. Byrd High School in 1943. About a year after graduation, he joined the United States Army and, after training, was sent to the Philippines to serve with the 22nd Base Postal Unit in Manila. He always joked that he lived across the street from General MacArthur; the General, in the Manila Hotel, and Brother Billy, in a pup tent. In 1946, he returned to Shreveport and attended Centenary College where he met his future wife, Lottie Mae Hood. They were married on August 29, 1947 and together realized that God was calling them to the ministry and a life of service. In July 1949, the young couple began holding church services in their home and Brother Billy founded the Oakmont Church of God. As the congregation grew, they held services in a local Boy Scout hut and eventually moved the church to a building on West 71st Street. Over the years, the church has moved to larger facilities, ultimately locating at its current location on West 70th Street in Shreveport.
Brother Billy always felt the call to spread the word of God and in 1976 went to Guatemala to minister to the people after a series of devastating earthquakes. This was the first of many mission trips, work camps, conferences, mission conventions and revivals he would organize and participate in through the years in Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Columbia, Mexico, Kenya, the People’s Republic of China, Dominican Republic and Eagle Pass, Texas. In 1983 he worked with the Inter-American Conference of the Church of God to establish the work of the Church of God in the Dominican Republic. He also formed the Missionary Action Projects, a non-profit organization to coordinate and consolidate the efforts of numerous Churches of God to support missionaries and mission projects around the globe. His hands-on work in the Dominican Republic led to numerous new churches and a school with over 1000 students which serves children from kindergarten through high school.
He was a leader in the Church of God and served on the Board of Trustees of Mid-America Bible College (now Mid-America Christian University) for fifteen years. He was Chairman of the Church of God Association of Evangelist and served in various positions in the Louisiana Assembly of the Church of God including Chairmanship of the Louisiana Ministerial Fellowship. In 1996 he was granted an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity by Mid America Bible College. Brother Billy has mentored, educated, advised, counseled and guided numerous budding young pastors in their journey to becoming ordained.
After retiring from his position as Senior Pastor at Oakmont Church of God, Brother Billy moved to The Stiles at the Glen approximately four years ago where he continued his ministry by conducting weekly Sunday School classes and a Men’s Bible Study group. Brother Billy began every prayer by saying, “God, you have been so good to us”. He was truly kindhearted and a source of comfort and limitless compassion. He was a gentle man who dedicated his life to God and who, tirelessly and with steadfast faith, was a beacon of light and inspiration to people around the world, serving God for over sixty-six years.
Brother Billy was preceded in death by his parents, George Watson and Pearl Galloway Franks, his wife Lottie Mae Franks, son Murray Franks, brothers Jewell Franks, Marshall Franks, Ray Franks, Tillman Franks, and sister, Mary Franks Campisi.

He is survived by his son William Derrel Franks, Jr. and wife Sandy, daughter Kathy Sullivan and husband Bill, daughter-in-law, Betty Franks, Grandchildren Alicia Franks Gibson and husband Troy, William Derrel Franks, III, Scott Sullivan and wife Mindy, Cody Sullivan and wife Rita, Madison Franks Thompson and husband Tyler, Jeffrey Belden and wife Ashley and Thomas O’Hara and wife Angie. Great Grandchildren William Derrel Franks, IV, Kalli Ruffin, Ally Sullivan, Taylor Sullivan, Emily Sullivan, Claire Sullivan, Alexis Thompson, Nolan Thompson, Kennedy Belden, and Michael Mark Belden, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws.

The family would like to thank Dr. Charles Hargon and his staff at Willis Knighton North as well as the staff at The Stiles at the Glen for their loving and dedicated care they provided to Brother Billy.
The family suggests that memorials be made to the Missionary Action Projects in the name of Brother Billy Franks @ P.O. Box 1131, Kilgore, Texas 75663-1131.

IMPACT EVENT SEPT. 2016 Shreveport

SEPT 8-10 Oakmont Church of God, Shreveport, LA.

Here is a glimpse of what our presenters will be sharing:

Fouad Masri – Fouad will be giving three presentations on Thursday PM & Friday AM:

Session 1: Violence and Hope in the Middle East: ISIS, Islam, and Jesus
Who are the Jihadists and why do we need to know about militant Islam? What does Islam say about the violence in the Middle East? Despite the crushing realities happening in this part of the world, God is working. Come and listen to what Jesus is doing among Muslims in these dark times and find your role in sharing the story of hope to Muslims.
Session 2: The Quran, Islam, & the Gospel
Learn about the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam, and its relationship to Muslims. Come and learn how you can tell the story of Jesus in an effective way.
Session 3: Speaking Like Jesus: Sharing Your Faith with Muslims
Communication between Christians and Muslims tends to hit a dead end. Come and learn from our Savior’s example how to tell the story of salvation to Muslims.

* Ruth Lyons: The Middle East: Land of revolts, retreats and revivals. Wondering how and why situations have developed in the land where Christianity began? Ruth will share from her 36 years of residence and ministry how some churches flourish and others face oppression and persecution. (*pseudonym)
Donna Thomas: Grief and the Lord’s Gift. Ever think this? “My spouse is gone. What do I do now?” There is hope for today and tomorrow. Donna will share advice and tips from life experience about dealing with grief and loss.

Kerry Joe Miller: Sharing Hope, Laughter, and Inspiration around the World. (Ventriloquist). Our purpose will be to encourage us all to be an “evangelist” in our community and surrounding areas.

Jim Johnman: Reaching Hispanics in the United States through Evangelism and Church Planting. This is a great opportunity today for the church to evangelize and reach out to the largest minority in the United States. How to effectively reach the Spanish language people for Christ will be our focus in our conference.

Jean Hartley: The IRS and its Impact on Your Church. Many churches fail to fulfill the terms and conditions needed for exclusion from taxable income. Jean will discuss points churches must do to make tax compliance a priority. There will be time for FAQs.

Noelle Huether: Using Your Website to Have an Impact. In this session learn how you can have a greater impact to a first time viewer, how to obtain repeat visitors, how to promote evangelism, and what features should be on your site. How to make your site more secure will also be discussed.

Lila Clay: HRM, What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You? Learn about the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM), this evangelistic cult is growing within the United States. Lila will expose the dangers of this growing movement within our culture and teach you how to counter its deception. Learn how to witness to your people before they get trapped in the lie.

Visit our Facebook page for more details.

National Association of Evangelism – Who are we?

NAE Officers: NAE Board Members: Consultants:
Ruth Lyons (Pres.) Donna Bevels (Chair) Jim Johnman
Kathy Dykes Brumley (V.Pres.) Woodrow Wilson Gary Kendall
Connie Cissna (Secretary) Lila Clay
Jean Hartley (Treasurer) Connie Cissna
Yoshi Hosoda

Valerie and Noelle have been involved in the IT, Design and publications and we thank them both.

IMPACT EVENT SEPT. 2016, Shreveport

IMPACT OUTREACH EVENT (IOE) – – Don’t Miss it!
Dates: 9/8-9/10/16 (Thursday evening, September 8 – Saturday AM, September 10)

The National Association of Evangelism (NAE) invites everyone who is interested in having more of an impact and sharing their faith with others to join us. Also you can learn more about the role of technology, ventriloquism and lots more …. Join us for an exciting and practical three-day NAE event hosted at Oakmont Church of God in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Cost for IOE (5 meals included): Registration: $65.00 Early Registration: $59.00 Students ½ off $32.50 Special prices for hotels: $59.00-$94.00 per night

Visit us on Facebook: The National Association of Evangelism CHOG

NAE AD Sept 2016

Thanksgiving Never Grows Old!

Words From Woody
(Woody Wilson Column)

Thanksgiving never grows old! It means to express gratitude, especially to God. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” exclaims the Apostle Paul in God’s word to the Ephesians (5:20).

Since November is called the month of thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder to give thanks to God and to family and friends for their love and support.

Historically, the holiday finds its root in America and was a religious observation to give thanks to God. They celebrated harvest!
God’s Church is exhorted to be thankful. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Psalm 95:2 encourages, “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.”
Being thankful is always appropriate – every day. Besides God, family and trusted friends, I also give thanks for:

Being born in America,
Freedoms,
Life,
People who believe in you,
Good jobs,
Military men and women,
Christian influences,
Church’s Loving fellowship,
Law enforcement,
Politicians who keep their word,
Vision, dreams to achieve great things,
Health.

“If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness,” claims Gerald Good. “It will change your life mightily.”
Great words to ponder – from your heart.

(Rev. Woodrow Wilson is senior pastor at God’s Community Outreach in Chillicothe, Ohio, for nearly 20 years. Rev. Wilson is an author, a writer, teacher, speaker and sports official. His column is “Words From Woody.” He and wife, Rev. Trish, live in Chillicothe. Rev. Wilson can be contacted by email – woodrowwilson1@yahoo.com.) Copyright 2009 Woody Wilson

What about the idea that the Arabs and Jews are descendants of Ishmael and Isaac respectively?

What about the idea that the Arabs and Jews are descendants of Ishmael and Isaac respectively? Ruth Lyons

On Aug 3 I received the following question on Facebook from a prayer partner:
“Ruth, from your ministry there and also your knowledge of the Bible, what do you believe about the idea that the Arabs and Jews are descendants of Ishmael and Isaac respectively?”

I learned quickly after arriving on the Eurasian field in ME that there are a few very sensitive topics: the Crusades, Palestine, Cyprus and Kurds. Greece is not sensitive –the Turks and Greeks just don’t like each other! Palestine and Israel is a very sensitive subject in the country where I minister and I do not easily discuss this with people because of this. I’ve also learned there is always more than meets the eye! We have to dig sometimes to discover the truth.

The issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is very political here. More so these days as the present government is very pro-Palestinian. When I first came to the field, I believed the land belonged to God’s chosen people, and Arabs just needed to accept reality; but now I must admit, I still hold my belief that the land belonged to God’s chosen people but at the same time I think people need to compromise when possible if the end result is peace and avoids the killing of innocent people.

Over the years I have met many Middle Easterners (Arabs and Turks) who are deeply troubled when U.S. evangelicals zealously support political policies and aggressive expansionist actions of the state of Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians. And they automatically associate all evangelicalism with Christian Zionism—which they see as political and an instrument of Western colonialism and American imperialism.

Christian Zionists characteristically anticipate fulfillment of a prophetic scenario that is reflected in popular books such as the Left Behind series. I do not agree with the teaching in this series. This theological framework understands that despite the creation of the church, the nation of Israel continues to have a distinct role in the redemptive plan of God. Upon Christ’s second coming, a regenerate Israel will play a leading role in mediating God’s blessing to the nations during the millennial reign. Being raised Church of God and a COG minister, I am amillenial. However, as a consequence of the teaching, many give unquestioning allegiance to Israel, concluding that God is on the side of the Jews. Most Arab evangelicals, on the other hand, are pro-PLO, anti-Israel, and deny any unique role for eschatological (end-time) Israel. Both camps filter their political and social experiences through their theological grids, with some unhealthy consequences. Arab Christians often seem to justify, or at least “understand,” the mentality that sanctifies suicide bombing as martyrdom. Pro-Israeli evangelicals often overlook Israel’s abuse of Palestinian rights because their theology says that God is on the side of the Jews. (The Turkish evangelical church is young – really only entering its second generation therefore we try to avoid this whole issue.)

My personal experience which includes 34 years of ministry in the Middle East, has acquainted me with both of these positions. I used to think God was not finished with Israel and would fulfill all biblical promises and prophecies concerning his chosen people, before studying under Dr. Jones at GBC and being in ministry. But seeing current events and recent history through Arab and Muslim-colored glasses revealed to me that the Palestinians (including many Christians) had suffered serious injustices. I do believe that Israel remains God’s chosen people but can’t reconcile all the violence. Jesus was confrontational but not violent. The result of living in this part of the world and personal study of the Bible, I believe, I have obtained a more balanced theology, one that allows me to take seriously both the biblical teaching about Israel’s special place in God’s unfolding purpose and the cries of injustice by Palestinians.

I will share some points from a piece I read a few years ago in Christianity Today, “A Middle Way in the Middle East: A third theological path through the Israeli-Palestinian thicket” by Mark Harlan (April 1, 2003). Harlan states two scriptural teachings which make sense to me which he suggests we don’t have to always side with Israel against the Palestinians, or vice versa, in order to be biblical:

1. The Abrahamic covenant is both conditional and unconditional. The basis of God’s plan for the nation of Israel is his covenant with Abraham. Theologians have hotly debated whether this covenant is conditional (and thereby invalidated by Israel’s unfaithfulness) or unconditional (and therefore a permanent promise).

Arab Christians, often influenced by Islam and the plo, normally focus exclusively on the conditional elements. On the other hand, pro-Israeli Western Christians tend to focus solely on the unconditional elements.

It is best to recognize that there are both conditional and unconditional elements in the covenant. The unconditional elements demonstrate God’s unmerited grace in electing the participants and his unwavering faithfulness in fulfilling the covenant. At the same time, certain conditions had to be fulfilled for the covenant to become a reality: Abraham had to leave Ur and most of his family and go to Canaan. Once he had done that, the Lord entered into an unconditional covenant with Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob (with whom God confirmed and expanded the covenant).

But later restatements of the Abrahamic covenant (such as Gen. 22:16ff.) suggest conditionality. Rather than trying to deny this duality, we can harmonize it as follows: The promise of land, seed, and blessing to Abraham’s descendants is an irrevocable covenant from God. The experience of these blessings, however, was conditioned by the faith-obedience of each generation of Israel. The purpose of the Mosaic covenant (plainly conditional) was to make clear to Israel the faith-obedience necessary to participate in the blessings of the promises given to Abraham.
Adherence to the Mosaic covenant would enable any generation of Israel to experience the blessings promised by the Abrahamic covenant, while unfaithfulness would result in curses, though the promise of restoration to the land (after repentance) remains in perpetuity.

2. Israel must fulfill the covenant stipulations of righteousness. If Jews today want to make a Scripture-based claim to the land, then all parties can fairly demand that they adhere to the stipulations of their own Scriptures which are as follows:

The purpose of God’s granting the covenant to Abraham’s seed was that they might bring blessing to “all the families of the earth.” Possession of the land must bring blessing to non-Israelites and ultimately to the world.

We must also remember that ownership of the land is ultimately God’s. The Israelites are only residing “aliens and tenants” (Lev. 25:23). The Lord warned the Israelites that if they failed to adhere to the covenant, then the land would “vomit them” from it (Lev. 18:24-30; 20:22-26; Deut. 4:25-27, 40; Deut. 8 and 9).

The Law of Moses forbids murder, theft, and coveting. Obtaining any land by means that violate any of these commands would invalidate alleged claims to such land on biblical bases. The case of Ahab murdering Naboth in order to obtain his land clearly reveals God’s intolerance for such conduct (1 Kings 21).

The conquest of Canaan does not provide a precedent for genocide or confiscation of land. Joshua’s mandate applied to a period when Canaanite religion and culture had plummeted to the depths of pagan depravity: it included sorcery, spiritism, and child sacrifice (Deut. 18:9-15). God gave Israel a special assignment to act as an instrument of his judgment on the Canaanites. Genesis 15 cannot be stated rationally that the Palestinian Arabs today are in the category of the Canaanites. The prophetic vision of resettlement of the Land after the exile is not based on violent takeover but on divine intervention (Isa. 60-61, Ezek. 36-37). We must also remember that the Lord promised to expel the Israelites from the land if they practiced any of these evils (Lev. 18:24-28).

Neither should the Palestinians be dealt with as Philistines. Socio-anthropologist support the idea that there is no relationship whatever between the Philistines of biblical times and the Palestinians of today, even though the names are related. The Philistines were descended from Japheth, while the Palestinians are Arabs descended from Shem. Many of the Palestinians are a genetic mixture of other peoples over the millennia.

Non-Israelites living in the land are not to be abused or oppressed. The Law repeatedly instructs Israel: “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt” (Ex. 22:21). “The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt” (Lev. 19:34). Social welfare programs cared for aliens along with orphans and widows. These included the right to glean from harvest fields (Lev. 19:10; 23:27; Deut. 24:19-21), to receive a part of the distributed tithes (Deut. 14:29; 26:12) and to have protection from permanent slavery (Lev. 25:47-50).

Non-Israelites were to have access to the same legal system as Israelites. No law could bind aliens that did not also bind Israelites (Lev. 24:22; Num. 9:14; 15:16; 15:29). There was to be only one system of justice for all (Deut. 1:16; 24:17), and Israel could not deprive aliens of their rights (Deut. 27:19). Wages had to be fair and never withheld (Deut. 24:14). Aliens were equally entitled to the system of “cities of refuge” to protect the accused from revenge (Num. 35:15; Josh. 20:9).

The Palestinians as Arabs are not accursed sons of Ishmael destined to be eternal archenemies of Israel. Recent evangelical scholarship reveals the mistake of deriving a stereotype of Ishmael and his descendents from their portrayal in Scripture. To summarize Tony Maalouf’s findings in his 1998 dissertation at Dallas Theological Seminary, God promised to bless Ishmael (meaning “God hears,” Gen. 17:20), whom he so named after hearing Hagar’s affliction. To comfort her and encourage her to return to her mistress, the Lord promised to reverse Hagar’s fortunes in the life of her son.

Though Hagar experienced subjection, helplessness, and separation from her people because of her flight from the face of Sarah, the Lord promised to make her son free as a nomad, strong enough never to be subjugated permanently, and given a place in the presence (face) of his brothers (Israel) (Gen. 16:12). God was “with” Ishmael and remained uniquely present in his land of Paran and made him a great nation (Gen. 21:17-21; 25:12-17; Hab. 3:3).

In short, the Law demanded kind and just treatment of non-Israelites living in the land. Generous treatment should all the more be extended toward Arabs and Palestinians—for they are not “bad guys of the Bible,” but rather those whom God has determined to bless alongside Israel. Establishing peace between Ishmael and Isaac will not be easy, but it is not a hopeless cause—and certainly not precluded by theological necessity. Christians cannot succeed in fulfilling our biblical mandate to be peacemakers, however, unless we take more balanced theological and political positions on this issue.

One thing is for certain: We need to pray for peace and reconciliation though the latter may seem to be unthinkable. Let’s not forget that “all things are possible with God.” It’s important when talking with a Muslim to stick to basic Christianity and those truths and avoid sensitive issues.

Our Greatest Privilege by Rick Blumenberg

Often we think of prayer as a duty or responsibility, but it is really life’s greatest privilege. To be able to talk at any time with the God of all creation, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (the three-person trinity who are the one Living God) and to know that we are loved unconditionally, listened to attentively and responded to personally, is really life’s greatest privilege.” Rick’s passion is for every person on the planet to come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This passion shows up in his blog…

Here is another blog post on a favorite subject–Prayer. Rick Blumenberg, Pastor at Bridgman, MI, writes “Often we think of prayer as a duty or responsibility, but it is really life’s greatest privilege. To be able to talk at any time with the God of all creation, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (the three-person trinity who are the one Living God) and to know that we are loved unconditionally, listened to attentively and responded to personally, is really life’s greatest privilege.” Rick’s passion is for every person on the planet to come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This passion shows up in his blog…

Our Greatest Privilege by Rick Blumenberg

Prayer is our heavenly Father’s gift to connect us with Him and with His power source. It is sort of like our speed dial to God. We don’t have to look him up, find an excuse to talk to him or go through any sort of defense mechanisms. He is always available on our prayer speed dial and what it all boils down to is that prayer is our greatest privilege. Any good we want to do, prayer helps us do it better. Imagine the difference between an electric light and an oil lamp. Except for the beautiful ambiance of an oil lamp, there is no comparison. Just as we get more light from electricity than from an oil lamp, any good we want to do, prayer helps us do it better because it connects us with God as our power source.

The primary or first privilege of prayer is being able to commune with God. We were created for fellowship with God. Quiet talks, yes. Also praise, thankfulness, desperation, anger, etc. It’s all communion with God and that’s what he wants from us. Prayer is not only a duty, but a privilege and a blessing from God! On the other hand, sin is what separates us from God and destroys that communion. That’s why God hates sin so much—because it hurts the people he loves. But prayer is also God’s solution to that vexing problem. Prayer enables us to do away with sin by claiming Christ’s death and resurrection for our own salvation, enabling us to experience blissful communion with God.

We do need to recognize, however, that not all communion with God is blissful. Sometimes He needs something done that is really, really hard and He asks us to do it. The best example is Jesus coming to earth and his subsequent death on the cross. He didn’t want to face death any more than you or I would. But Jesus knows God’s way is always right and He was being asked to do something that just had to be done—something no one else could do. So he did it. Christ needs to be our example, knowing God will be just as dependable for us as he was with the Lord Jesus Christ when he was here on earth as a human. If there is something difficult God wants us to do, he will empower us to do it.
This brings up the second privilege of prayer, to accomplish God’s Will. That’s what Jesus told us to do in what we call the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:10) for God’s Kingdom to come and God’s Will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. This phrase should be in most of our prayers, because God accomplishes his will at least partially through the prayers of faithful persons. We not only try to do his will, we help to bring it about through our prayers.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Pray also for me,…” (Ephesians 6:19) and this shows us another important privilege of the ministry of prayer—to work together with God. Prayer is the best method of Divine-human cooperation—our primary way to connect with God and His power. God gives us wisdom, guidance, empowerment, protection and many other helps and we give him our love and a physical body through which he can work. That’s a really good trade-off.

I’m Rick Blumenberg . . . and that’s My View from Tanner Creek.Visit: myviewfromtannercreek.blogspot.com