One of the most amazing and unusual experiences we have living in Israel is to see people who are avowed enemies nationally and historically come together in harmony and peace. A number of Israeli organizations bring together Arabs and Jews who have mutual interests (for example, in the area of the arts). Often harboring strong religious and political differences, these people get to know and understand each other on a personal level.
On a number of occasions I have been privileged to attend conferences for Christian Jewish and Arab women organized by Musalaha, a ministry of reconciliation founded by an Arab believer, Salim Munayer. These conferences provide an opportunity for Arab and Jewish believing women to come together for prayer and fellowship.
This year’s conference was held in January at Tantur, a Christian retreat and study center not far from Bethlehem. There were over 120 women in attendance. The conference began on Friday with the evening meal, which was followed by singing and testimonies. The majority of the participants were Arab ladies, many coming from villages and towns in northern Israel. Miraculously, the Arab believers who live in the Bethlehem area were able to get through the Israeli checkpoints, a complicated and time-consuming effort.
Saturday morning began with songs of praise and a time of prayer in small groups. Then came testimonies. According to a report on the conference issued by Musalaha, seven ladies gave their testimonies: “a Russian immigrant and her heart for the Russian Jewish community; a Palestinian living in Israel who grew up in an orphanage; an expatriate who is involved in many communities and active in helping needy Palestinian women and families; a Messianic Israeli youth worker; two Palestinian women who serve their communities through humanitarian aid, outreach, and support; and an expatriate who helps manage an Israeli conference center for believers.” Some of the testimonies revealed the tremendous spiritual testing and emotional struggles many women experience, especially those who live in the West Bank under curfews, Islamic pressure, the constant dread of terrorist activities and threat of war.
Before lunch we were informed that by each plate on the tables there would be one of three letters; An E for English speakers, an H for Hebrew speakers and an A for Arabic speakers. Each person was asked to sit at a plate with their letter. The letters had been arranged in such a way that each table became a mixed language group. This unique idea helped us to meet women from other areas of Israel and the West Bank. While having lunch we listened to reports of what the Lord has been doing around the country. During the afternoon there were more testimonies and a time of praise and worship.
Now more than ever before we are committed to praying for our sisters, who all need to experience the Lord’s peace and love, especially now that we are faced with the threat of war.
Psalm 122:6 commands us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a microcosm of the entire land of Israel, so when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we pray for all those living in the land.
Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. (Eph. 6:18; RSV)