E3 Partners' Tom Doyle just returned from the region. "We just noted a real fearfulness, kind of like what was happening in 2002-2003 with buses blowing up. Syria (is) threatening to attack. Iran is talking about nuking Israel. And so they're just really surrounded. And the Gaza thing continues to get worse and worse."
While peace talks have been on again off again, Doyle says the people have become very pessimistic. "They say in the end, terrorism always wins. Because the people have to adjust, they have to change their life. And the mayor of Sederot, which is the Jewish community just north of Gaza that's getting the brunt of the missile attacks, recently said, 'We'll negotiate anything if they'll stop."
Doyle says they're to the point of desperation.
That desperation is also being felt by Christians in the Palestinian-held areas, especially in light of the killing of the Christian bookstore worker. "The believers now know in Gaza that Hamas was behind the killing. So now the Christian community just feels God is their refuge; nobody else is going to help them."
He says there are great things happening as the church carefully moves forward with ministry.
However, Doyle says most of the movement is coming from moderate Muslims. "Moderate Muslims in Gaza and the West Bank have gotten so sickened by the turn of events and how Christians are being attacked. They are more open to the Gospel at this point, which is great."
While many wonder about the openness that Muslims have for the Gospel, the bigger question is this: Are Christians open to sharing the Gospel?
Supporting an evangelist or pastor in the region is important because Doyle says the church is growing. "We were just getting a report of new churches in some difficult, really fundamental areas that Islam has had a strong hold in. And recently some new churches have begun and sprung up."
The impact is profound, says Doyle. "We know of a group right now where 20 former terrorists are in a Bible study together that one of our leaders is working with, and he's helping disciple them. As we were there, they were introducing us to new believers--some were one-year-old in the Lord, and some were even younger than that."