This week, please intercede with us for Dr. Salim Munayer in Jerusalem.
Regarded as a holy city by the Abrahamic faiths, Jerusalem is home to several sites of sacred significance, such as the Temple Mount, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and al-Aqsa Mosque. Following the Arab-Israeli War in 1948, Israel annexed West Jerusalem and Jordan annexed East Jerusalem. Since the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel has controlled territories also claimed by Palestine (West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip) and Syria (Golan Heights). Today, both Israel and Palestine regard Jerusalem as their capital. In May, protests over the anticipated forced evictions of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem erupted into eleven days of violence, leaving 260 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead. According to 2019 data, 60.5% of Jerusalem’s 901,300 inhabitants are Jewish, 36.5% are Muslim, and 1.8% are Christian.
Salim is the Founder and Executive Director of Musalaha Reconciliation Ministries, established in 1990 during the First Intifada to build peace among Messianic Jewish and Arab Palestinian Christians. Musalaha has been recognized worldwide for its model of promoting reconciliation and understanding among women, children, and young adults through teaching, conferences, and desert encounters. Salim’s book, Journey through the Storm, tells the story of Musalaha, its commitment to Christ’s call to forgive and love our enemies, and its role in healing conflict among Palestinian and Israeli communities over the last thirty years.
Salim has also served on the faculty of Bethlehem Bible College since its founding in 1979. He has written several books and articles on reconciliation, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and Christian Palestinian identity. SCHOLARLEADERS supported Salim’s PhD studies at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies and recognized his innovative leadership with the ScholarLeader of the Year Award in 2009. In his 2010 InSights Perspective, Salim reflects on leadership lessons from his decades in ministry.
Salim shares the following message:
Not Warm and Not Cold: The Situation in the Holy Land
In recent weeks, I have been reflecting on the situation in the Holy Land, especially with regards to the younger generations and their discomfort with the political situation, and with the Church and its leadership. Some young people have stopped attending church services while others have formed their own fellowship groups. The example of young adults voicing their discomfort with the Church can be seen in many places around the world. However, the situation has never been this drastic in the Holy Land in my 30 years of ministry.
During the 1980s, before and during the First Intifada, the Church was engaged in the public sphere and regularly voiced its discomfort with injustice, corruption, and various socioeconomic affairs. In fact, many Christian organizations were founded during this period: Musalaha, Bethlehem Bible College, Sabeel, and others. All provided theological reflection and concrete action for engaging society, whether through education, reconciliation, advocacy, interreligious dialogue, or development. Those years were challenging and fruitful, filled with excitement that we Christians have an important voice and can impact our communities.
Even during the rough and violent period of the Second Intifada (2000-2005), the Church took a strong position against violence and injustice. There was also a strong conviction and vision to help those in need and those affected by the terrible conflict. That said, after many failed attempts to reach peace and justice, and after the violent responses to the Arab Spring and the rise of militant groups, many Christians withdrew from the public sphere. Some church leaders have adopted a ghetto mentality, making decisions that further distance their communities from reality.
This disengagement from societal matters is a comfortable decision for many Christians, since there is no price to pay when raising a critical prophetic voice or challenging positions of power from a distance. This works well for certain leaders, as they receive privileges and influence from the very powers that wish to silence and control them.
For this very reason, many young adults are taking matters into their own hands. They are beginning to meet, pray, minister, write, and learn independently, beyond the traditional institutions of the Church. This phenomenon has also increased research and dialogue among communities that face similar challenges, including in South Africa and among African Americans. The younger generation is not looking to their own elders as a source of theological wisdom, for they are neither warm nor cold. Instead, the younger generation is looking to various groups that not only experience oppression and difficulty, but also act to change their reality.
(1) Pray for church leaders to discern how they should respond to the young adults’ frustration and present a vision of engagement that accounts for the realities in the land.
(2) Pray for the young adults as they seek to develop a relevant theology for their situation and encourage other young adults to join them.
(3) Pray for political leaders to seek God’s justice in their political decisions.
(4) Pray for Musalaha to raise resources in order to meet the growing demands within more segments of Israeli and Palestinian societies that want to engage in our reconciliation activities.