For more on my Lenten Focus, see my Ash Wednesday post. A quick summary is that I am spending Lent fasting and praying for the Persecuted Church, and I invite you to join me.
The Palestinian Territories are number 26 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, and are classified as a area of moderate persecution.
Gaza Strip — This small territory in southwestern Israel lies along the Mediterranean Sea and borders Egypt. It is one of the most densely populated areas of the world, with over 1.5 million people. Hamas, which is both a political movement and an Islamist terrorist organization, has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007. Renewed conflicts led to calls for peace talks in 2014, but tensions continue. Israel and Egypt block almost all exports from Gaza and restrict imports, which has had severe economic ramifications. More than 70 percent of Gaza’s population lives in poverty and receives humanitarian assistance, and the U.N. reports that it provides food aid to nearly 800,000 people.
West Bank — This territory lies in eastern Israel and borders Jordan and the Dead Sea. More than 2.5 million people live in the West Bank, and 80 percent are Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian Authority exercises control of the West Bank, but Jewish settlements and Israeli military authorities control some areas within the territory as well
There are an estimated 8,000 Palestinian Arab evangelical believers, with 1,400 of those in the West Bank and 300 in Gaza. In general, the government structures attempt to provide freedom of religious beliefs, although Sharia law is used in both the West Bank and in Gaza. … Both Arab and Jewish believers are persecuted and harassed, sometimes violently. Muslim extremists periodically persecute Arab Christians, particularly those from Muslim backgrounds. Authorities have been known to tell Christian converts to leave their communities to avoid harassment and persecution. Although some churches meet openly in the West Bank, the situation for Arab Christians is more oppressive in rural villages of the West Bank and in Gaza.
- For the many women in Israeli and Palestinian areas who suffer trauma from violence because of war and persecution because of their gender
- For students at the Bethlehem Bible College preparing for Christian ministry and leadership
- For the church in Gaza, as many are still suffering from the war in 2014
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