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The Disappearing Christian Arab of the Holy Land

 
  Monthly Report: 2/1/1989  
 

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We have never seen believers in the West as serious as they are now.  There is an awareness that the status quo, the world as we know it, is about to be shattered.

In Argentina, the believers have been warned of God to fast and pray, or else face another military government takeover.  All over that country congregations are calling for days of fasting and praying.

The fact is, unless every nation fasts and prays, disaster will sooner or later strike. However, there is an alternative. God's people can still subdue and conquer nations, peoples and tribes by spiritual conquest with spiritual weapons. That is why we are seeing great revival right now in areas of Africa and Asia for example.

Nevertheless, we cannot lose sight of the fact that Judgment is coming soon. We must have one hand on the plow, one on the sword and a watchmen's eye to see the signs of the times which Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus) said we must (Matt. 16:3).

We believe that Israel is God's number one time clock. By being aware of the spiritual progression of events in Israel, we can better pray and work to see the destruction of the kingdom of Satan in that most important arena. This month we want to focus on the Christian Arabs.

Bethlehem's Christians

Over the last forty years the percentage of Christian Arabs in the Holy Land has greatly decreased. Indeed, if they continue their 40 year statistical decline they will disappear as a community altogether.

In 1946, Bethlehem, a village of 15,830, registered 12,580 as Christians, making them a four fifths majority. The Jordanians who ruled Bethlehem until 1967 took a census in 1961 showing that only half of the 37,735 citizens were Christians. The Moslem birthrate is one of the very highest in the world, while that of the Christian Arabs is too low to even replenish their ranks. As the Moslem population expands and engulfs the region, the Christian numbers are continuing to diminish.

Today the entire Bethlehem district of roughly 115,000 Arabs is only 25 percent Christian, according to municipal estimates. Now numerous minarets rise above the rooftops of the ancient village, and the recorded call to prayer toward Mecca five times a day dominates the airspace above Bethlehem.

Christian Arabs Of Jerusalem

In 1946, Jerusalem had a population of 164,000 citizens of which 31,000 were Christian Arab. Under King Hussein's rule of East Jerusalem, Jerusalem's Christian population declined to 12,400. (Only a handful lived on the Israel side of West Jerusalem). Today, there are a total of 14,000 Christian Arabs left in all of Jerusalem.

Even though considered inferior by the Moslems, Christian communities usually live on a higher standard of living, and are better educated. An Arab Christian family averages less than two children while the fertility rate of a Moslem woman is 3.9 children in Jerusalem, and 7 in Judea or Samaria.

Thus, Christian Arabs have always had an easier time immigrating to the West than their Moslem counterparts because of their above average education level. Over the years clans of Christian Arabs have immigrated to places like Houston and Jacksonville, or various cities in South America-and still are.

Furthermore, Israeli authorities point out that there was a strong Moslemization of Christian towns when King Hussein ruled. For example, some Moslem refugee camps were planted alongside of or within the environs of Christian villages, untilthe Moslems dominated those areas.

So in every way, the significance of the Christian Arab seems to be diminishing inIsrael. Because their relative birthrate is so low, they are disappearing in a sea of the Moslem population explosion, or they are steadily leaving the country as they have for 40 years.

Spiritually they desperately need a revival. Their lack of a national sense of purpose as a Christian community opens them up for eventual extinction as has happened to many peoples. (One such example are the Samaritans, who now number in the tens and, are on the verge of extinction.)

Who Is A Christian?

To clarify the Middle Eastern understanding of the word "Christian" let us hasten to say that in the Near East a definition of a Christian Arab would mean, generally speaking, an Arab born in a home whose cultural roots are embedded in the Greek Orthodox, the Roman Catholic Church, the Marronites or less commonly, even an Evangelical Church.

Few Christian Arabs have any idea of what it means to be born again, to have one's sins forgiven, and to have a close relationship with God. Most of them never darken the door of a church, but they do strongly identify themselves as Christians.

One could compare a Christian Arab to say a "Christian" Italian or a "Christian" Frenchman, versus say a Moslem citizen of Turkey. Since Italian and French have, not to speak of Germans and Englishmen, a general Christian background, these nations as a whole are perceived by the East as being Christian. Likewise, Arab Christians see themselves as Christians. In fact, nearly all of them are unaware that there is any other definition of the word "Christian".

One gets to be a Christian because one is born that way. That is, born into a Christian culture family. The individual Arab Christian does not see himself as having anything to do with the fact he was born a Christian. Any more then a Jew who has nothing to do with the fact of his being Jewish because he was born a Jew.

Even though Christian Arabs, therefore, generally have little understanding of the things of God-thank God there are exceptions-still there are major differences between Christian Arabs and Moslem Arabs.

The Real Arabs

Moslems see themselves as the "true" Arab. To really be, shall we say, a "completed Arab" one must embrace Mohammed. Christian Arabs are considered second class citizens- much perhaps as Messianic Jewish believers are considered second or third-class citizens by Orthodox Jews.

Even when, for example,a Moslem girl becomes born again, the general rule is that no born again Christian family would want this "Moslem" to marry their Christian son. So great are the biases, that even Yeshua the Messiah is not allowed to change them.

Christian Arabs Finding A Way To Be More Accepted By Arab World

During the Arab uprising these last 13 months in Israel, an interesting phenomenon has occurred. Christian Arabs have found that the more they participate in the anti Jewish riots, and the more they attach themselves to the Arab cause by stoning Jewish soldiers and civilians alike, the more "Arab" they are becoming. The Moslem Arabs are accepting their Christian counterparts as never before.

In the past, a Moslem and Christian would likely not exchange greetings in the street. Now Christians exclaim that the Moslems are calling out to their "Christian brothers" as fellow Palestinians. This has given the Christians a new sense of belonging to the Arab race that they have never before known.

Ararat Would Crush Religious Freedom

Yet, if ever the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) should establish a government in Judea, Samaria and Gaza as the Palestinians are demanding their religious freedoms-which to them would mean the right to follow culturally their heritage-would be quickly crushed. The devil does not like even the outward appearance of Christianity. Many, many Palestinians are turning to the fanatical leadership of the Shi'ite sect whose spiritual head is Khoumeni of Iran. Shi'ite Mohammadism has to be one of the darkest most murderous religions on the face of the earth.

We ourselves have spoken with certain of the born again Arab Christian's in Israel, urging them to face the fact that if the PLO takes over the rulership of the Palestinian people, these Arab believers will no longer have freedom to preach the Gospel to either Christian or Moslem Arabs.

They do now have that freedom under Israeli rule. Yet, not a single Arab nation gives born again Arabs the freedom to publicly propagate the Gospel. Indeed, in such countries as Jordan and Saudi Arabia it is a capital offense to bring a Moslem to the Lord.

As we have mentioned in a previous letter, it is estimated that more Moslem Arabs (not including Moslems of other races) have come to a saving knowledge of God in Israel, than all the other Arab Moslem nations together. It is obvious that the freedom to preach to the Arabs in Israel has greatly increased the chances for the unsaved to hear the Good News. Generally, Israel welcomes missionaries to the Arab peoples.

Arab Christians Need Love

The Christian Arabs now under the rule of Israel need prayer. And they need laborers who will go and bring the Bead Of Life to them. Yeshua the Messiah's love is unknown to them. They are heavy laden with a world of violence and hatred and hopelessness. Their Messianic hopes in Arafat must only lead to more desperation.

If they do have any secret understanding of God's purposes for Israel, and His promise that that Land would belong to the Jews, they are too frightened for their lives to speak out in favor of the Jewish people, or of the state of Israel. There are few exceptions.

Also, another of the problems escalating the feelings against the Jews, is that many of the missionaries who are called to the Arabs soon find themselves becoming anti-Jewish. Listening day after day to the stories coming from the Arabs, about a child hurt or killed, for example, by Israeli soldiers, and without hearing anything from the "other side" they become quite incensed at Israel, who has, they say,"stolen Arab land", and who are treating the Arabs unfairly, etc. etc. They easily forget that a terrified Israel is fighting for its very existence from an unending sea of terrorist led Arab nations.

These missionaries also feel that by sympathizing with the Arabs they will win their hearts. However we believe they are doing the Arabs no favor by not bringing out the Scriptural truths concerning God's specific gift of that small land to Israel. (Just as God has given to the many other Arab nations their own property which comes to 672 times more land than what God gave to Israel).

The missionaries are missing the opportunity to impart God's plan for Israel to a people who are living right in the middle of it! No, it does not help the Arabs to be blind to God's Word in that area. Indeed, the Bible promises that if they were to bless their Jewish brethren, God would bless them. And, oh, how they need blessing.

Attempts At Christian-Messianic Jewish Dialogue

One more point of interest for someone who receives a burden to pray, is that the Messianic Jews of Israel have, and are making fervent attempts to open dialogue with born again Palestinian Arabs. The results have not been too promising yet. Praise God, there are individual exceptions!! Shall we say it again? Your prayers will make a difference.

We Lead Our First Tour To Israel!

Next June 2-15, our family is leading our very first tour to Israel! We have spent a combined total of 33 years in Israel and have two children age 11 and 9 born in Tel Aviv.

We would like to lead you not on a typical tourist trip, but to see "our" Israel! We will show you our favorite places, our favorite restaurants, introduce you to our friends and co-laborers, and accompany you to various Messianic Jewish congregations in Israel.

We would like to take a relatively small group and stuff you with information of what is happening prophetically and spiritually with the believers in the land! We want God to instill in you a yet deeper vision of God's plan for this people. We will give you an overall view of what we see God doing among the Israelis.

e shall take you to plant olive trees at the Ellis farm and inspect their sheep and goats. We will visit the Voice of Hope station on the border of Lebanon when planning our itinerary with the tour company, we insisted that our tour spend the night at the Dead Sea so we could enjoy swimming at leisure in the most remarkable body of water on earth! We're even going to climb to the desert waterfalls where King David hid from Saul.

Instead of racing from holy place to holy place, we will visit fewer short tourist stops, and pour our time into exploring in depth portions of the Israel we know. For example, we'll spend a couple of hours with a Bedouin family in their natural habitat in the desert.

We believe this would be a great tour for pastors and in general, spiritually aware believers!

We will enjoy leading this tour! HOPE YOU CAN COME. The price is $2,195.00 for 14 days, June 2nd thru June 15th. Five star hotels. Write us immediately for a brochure, or phone 214-374-7622.

The Supreme Court Of Israel Has Not Yet Decided

Incredibly, the Supreme Court of Israel has not yet made a decision on the Gary and Shirley Beresford case yet. This case, as we have written many times, is to decide whether or not a Messianic Jew can immigrate to Israel under the "right to return law," which states that a Jew born of a Jewish parent to the third generation, who has not converted to another religion,has the right to immigrate and become a citizen of Israel.

The issue of course is: Can a Jew believe in Yeshua the Messiah and still be a Jew?

If your answer is, "How can anyone doubt it?" First remember that 1900 years ago, the burning question of the day was, "Can a Gentile in Yeshua the Messiah still be a Gentile?" (Acts 15:1-31).

We will continue to pray and believe for this great spiritual victory in Israel until the Supreme Court Judges hand down the decision. We invite your fervent prayers until you hear the announcement of victory.

Your Generosity To The Ellis' Milk Farm

Last October we wrote you concerning Tal and Adi Ellis, a Messianic Jewish family who have a sheep and goat farm in Nazareth. We explained that for them to have a viable farm, they needed to beat the clock on a governmental milk quota regulation that would be set on December 31, 1989, penalizing Israeli farmers who produce more milk then they were at that moment. 

 

We asked you to help this solid family who has struggled a number of years to become solvent in a country that is economically in great straits, especially in the agriculture area. We asked help to buy 60 goats at $250 a piece (including Israeli taxes). You responded by sending them a total of 64 goats! They now have 160 goats and 300 sheep, enough to make their sheep/goat milk quota viable as a business!

We relay their deep sense of gratitude and thanksgiving for helping them to establish themselves as a believing family in Galilee. We trust you can understand the significance of their being established and living in that area.

Our Israeli Sister In The Lord

We have an Israeli co-worker named Rachel Bashi who has labored with us for five years, and indeed is still our general do-it-all lady in Israel.

Her ancient Volkswagen has finally said, "it is enough". Even so, she can still get $3,000 by selling it for parts.

Rachel needs another car. Because of the terrific taxes in Israel, the smallest cheapest vehicle costs today about $15,000. She needs $12,000 for a new small car.

Rachel uses her car continually for the work of God. In other words, Maoz needs a car for Rachel!!! (In Israel companies cannot own passenger cars).

We would appreciate help for this lady who left a much better paying job at an Israeli bank to come to work for us. Blessings on you in advance!

We covet very deeply your prayers as we steward the funds that you send us to dispense in this Jewish Ministry.

In our Messiah,

Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram

* Statistical information on Arabs from Jerusalem Post, December 30, 1988.

 
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