Thank you for praying with us this week 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. According to 2016 data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, around 61% of Jerusalem’s 882,700 inhabitants are Jews, 36% are Muslims, and 2% are Christians.
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 has also served on the faculty of Bethlehem Bible College since its founding in 1979. He is the author of five books and several 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 decades in ministry. This past January, Christianity Today highlighted comments from Salim, as well as Dr. Yohanna Katanacho (LeaderStudies scholarship recipient and 2019 ScholarLeader of the Year), regarding Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan.
Salim shares the following message:
Like many people around the world, we have been affected negatively by the coronavirus. We have had to stop many of our projects and move them to online platforms. This is especially discouraging, as things were really moving forward for us at Musalaha. We are also concerned about the economic situation for all ministries in Palestine/Israel, and how this will affect our organization and staff members as we have reduced many salaries.
In times of uncertainty, human responses may tend toward withdrawal or the promotion of selfish interests. Christ, however, teaches us to constantly reach out to the vulnerable. This is even more important in our situation, as weak and marginalized members of society are suffering enormously. They lack access to basic resources and support. It is a danger to use the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to stop loving our neighbors.
This time of confinement is also a time for contemplation and reflection, specifically concerning our lifestyles, impact on the environment, and treatment of the “other” in our society. The crisis has also highlighted our human limitations and frail condition. I am reminded of Psalm 103: “The days of man are like grass. He grows like a flower of the field. When the wind blows over it, it is gone. Its place will remember it no more” (vv. 15-16). As leaders of churches and ministries, we ought to use this time for critical internal examination.
Musalaha’s Jerusalem Program
One new development at Musalaha is the Jerusalem Program. This interactive program exposes participants to diverse understandings of the conflict in Jerusalem and to possibilities of conflict transformation.
Using Jerusalem as a case study, participants attain in-depth contextual knowledge regarding reconciliation in ethnic and religious communal conflict. The program is designed to introduce topics related to the multi-layered conflicts among Jews, Christians, and Muslims through site visits, lectures, discussions, and conflict mediation exercises.
Using Musalaha’s reconciliation methodology, participants develop transferable skills that can be applied in any city across the globe. The Jerusalem Program is designed to work with people from around the world, and we have already begun to cooperate with universities and churches from other countries.
Pray for health, wisdom in moving ahead, and proper reflection.
Pray for the Jerusalem Program. Pray for us as we move the Musalaha curriculum online.
Pray for the economic situation affecting our ministry and society.
Thank you and blessings,