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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Christian Church Vandalized in Jerusalem in Spate of Attacks

By Michael Ireland
Special Reporter, ASSIST News Service

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (ANS) -- Calvary Baptist Church in Jerusalem, led by an Arab Israeli Christian pastor, is the latest congregation to be hit in a string of vandalism incidents to hit Christian holy sites in Israel this year, in a Nov.12 incident.

Pastor Steven Khoury pictured in a video by Worthington Media Intl

“The sign pointing people to the church was defaced with white paint with ‘Justice’ written on the wall next to the sign,” said Pastor Steven Khoury, the head of Calvary Baptist Church.

In September, vandals burned a door of the Trappist Monastery in Latrun and spray-painted anti-Christian graffiti with the words “Jesus is a monkey,” Khoury told ASSIST News.

Last month, he said, the Church of the Dormition Abbey on Mt. Zion, near Jerusalem's Old City, was defaced with graffiti that included the words “price tag.”

According to Pastor Khoury, church members are taking precautionary measures to ensure that no further attacks are carried out against the church.

Vandalized church sign in Jerusalem

He told ANS that security cameras are being installed and round-the-clock watch groups will patrol near the church building in the interim.

“It is our wish to help law enforcement in east Jerusalem to help capture any culprits who think to further vandalize as has occurred over the last few years to Christian, Muslim, and Jewish holy sites,” remarked Khoury.  Police are currently investigating the matter.

Khoury is calling upon the State of Israel to clamp down on these incidents and have perpetrators who commit these types of acts of vandalism to be prosecuted under Israel's hate crime statues.

Khoury emphasized that it is important that Israel demonstrates that defacing holy sites is a serious offense under the law as well as its democratic values and “one cannot just receive a financial slap on the wrist.”

Khoury’s ministry, Holy Land Missions (www.Holylandmissions.org) exists to preach the Gospel to the hurting nation of Israel and the Palestinian peoples, bringing worldwide awareness of the persecution of born again Christians living in the Holy Land today, “Building Hope in lives that lost it, Planting Love in hearts that forgot it, to build a better tomorrow.” 

The organization’s current mission is building a multi-purpose Worship Center in Jerusalem.

Khoury pastors Calvary Baptist Church in Jerusalem, as well as a church in Bethlehem, and four other sites in Israel.

Pastor Steven Khoury with his wife

Pastor Khoury attended Bible College in Springfield, MO, and received his Bachelor of Science in Pastoral Ministry and Bible, along with his official Ordination Certificate. He has served in ministry in both the States and Israel over the past 7 years. As an affiliate with the BBFI, and a member of the National Christian Foundation, he is the youngest locally- ordained Arab pastor in Israel and surrounding Arab countries.

Khoury has been published in several books and interviewed by CBN and ICEJ. He currently writes religious articles for Al-Quds, the largest Arabic newspaper in the Holy Land. His book is called, “In the Backyard of Jesus,” published by Living Sacrifice Book Company, in Bartlesville, OK.

Holy Land Missions has been reaching out to the lost in Israel for the past 30 years. Today, six locations around the country are actively preaching the Gospel to a hurting nation, including Calvary Church in Jerusalem and First Baptist in Bethlehem. The ministry says that throughout the entire country there are approximately 15,000 born again Arab-Israeli Christians who are daily persecuted by the two dominating religions in the area.

On his website, Khoury explains: “Persecution has always faced this ministry. Church members have been attacked, discriminated against, and many have lost their income -- all for the sake of carrying The Cross.

“Several believers have been martyred, including Dr. Naim Khoury’s brother, and several youth girls who invited children to VBS. The church in Bethlehem has been molotov firebombed fourteen times and Dr. Naim Khoury has been shot at several times in the last 10 years.”

Nevertheless, Holy Land Missions has reached out to thousands over the years through their outreach programs such as: T.V. ministry, Summer Children’s Programs, Printing and Distribution of Christian Materials, Radio Ministry, Youth Centers, Church Services, Food Pantry, and Community Events.

“Holy Land Missions sends out a call for the body of believers around the World to stand behind the persecuted believers in this country,” the website says.

Khoury said those interested in helping finance the new church can go online to the ministry website at www.Holylandmissions.org, “To pray and to even sow a gift into this land in Jerusalem.”

Khoury’s ministry also has a couple of other websites to help publicize discrimination against his church in Bethlehem, located in the Palestinian Authority territories. The website is: www.bethlehemfreedom.com, or www.bethlehemfreedom.org, both of which direct visitors to sign petitions to the US Congress.

Khoury continued: “This letter goes to congress, their congressman saying we are telling you we’re not going to stand by and see the Palestinian government delegitimize an evangelical church because they have different views, different beliefs. We have a letter, about 28 congressmen who have signed on to this legislation, to let the PA know that we know about this issue and this situation, and we want a result.” Khoury said the letter was a bi-partisan effort from both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans.

“You know the Christians in America they are so passionate. I’ve traveled throughout America, through many denominations from traditional to Charismatic, American Christians are so passionate, but at the same time I think they’re so sheltered. They there’s contentment, too much contentment,” Khoury told ANS in a recent interview.

“Complacency, that’s more the word. So my message or my challenge to the Christians in America is, there’s nothing wrong to be good-hearted people, but you have to step up to what’s around you. Around you is requiring you to be a bolder believer. Around you -- meaning the outside world, the world outside the church walls -- is right now forcing you to be a bolder believer. If you’re not a bolder believer, then your voice will never be heard,” Khoury said.

“In the Gospel of John, Jesus turns to the Disciples and says ‘you know, why are you so surprised that there’s so much persecution? Why are you so surprised that they’re persecuting you?’ He sort of speaks to them basically he’s telling them it’s abnormal not to suffer. Jesus tells his disciples they will persecute you because they persecuted me for you. He’s telling his disciples not being persecuted is abnormal; being persecuted is normal because the world will reject you just like they rejected Me.”

He recently called upon American Christians to pray for a ‘Spiritual Arab Spring.’

“I’m always telling Christians in the West to pray for a stronger ‘Spiritual Spring’ to arise. That’s my message. Pray that a stronger spiritual spring would arise.”

Khoury concluded by saying that he wants to challenge Christians to visit the Holy Land.

“It is a spiritual journey that makes you understand much more how real Jesus is. I want to challenge the Christians in the west to visit our websites, it’s important. Visit our websites to sign up for our newsletter to let us know that we are not forgotten.”


** Michael Ireland is an Internet Journalist who has served as Chief Correspondent and Senior International Correspondent for ASSIST News Service ASSIST News Service. since 1998. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Michael is a member in good standing of the National Writers Union, Society of Professional Journalists, Religion Newswriters Association, Evangelical Press Association and International Press Association. Michael's writing ministry is a sponsored ministry department -- 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International of P.O.Box 1649, Brentwood, TN 37024-1649, at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International. Michael frequently attends the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) and Evangelical Press Association (EPA) conventions where he interviews high profile leaders of missions and ministries across the US and around the world. His stated mission for writing is 'Truth through Christian communication.' Please contact Michael for more information. Also, if you have a story idea for Michael, you may write to him at:Writer Mike

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