Call to prayer reveals remnant church in need of support

By January 15, 2009

Israel (MNN) — "On Friday (January 9), we received news that the building
where our bookshop is located was hit by a missile." The Palestinian
Bible Society (PBS) confirmed this statement on Monday. "The missile hit the fourth floor of
the building. The bookshop and community center did not suffer any damage. It
remains to be seen whether the hit caused any unseen structural damages. No
casualties or injuries were reported."

In a telephone conversation with Open Doors, Pastor Hanna
Massad, leader of the Baptist church in Gaza, said that any person in Gaza can
become a victim. He shared: "A few days ago we heard about a Christian who was
drinking tea with his neighbor on the sixth floor of their apartment building.
The Christian man then was called down by his wife. A few moments after he had
gone downstairs, a missile came down, shaking the building to its foundation.
Their building was hit, and when he ran back upstairs, it became clear that the
floor where he had been sitting a few minutes before, was directly hit by the
projectile. His neighbor died instantly."

"Very often the top floors of a building are hit worse if a
missile comes down," shares another church leader who originally is from Gaza
and frequently contacts his church members in Gaza. "Because of this increased
risk, many people gather together in the landings of their apartment buildings
during the night. They are packed with several dozen in the staircase; it gives
them a feeling of safety."

The Palestinian Bible Society has called for a worldwide
time of prayer today regarding the chaotic situation in Gaza.

Open Doors learned from Labib Madanat, Development Director
of the United Bible Society in Israel and Palestine, that the Anglican hospital
in Gaza, which is near to the closed bookshop of the PBS, is still operational.
Madanat says: "It is operational but lacks medicines and daily necessities.
The doctors are in need of everything." Also, the lack of power in Gaza is a
concern. However, the situation seems to have stabilized to some extent with
approximately four hours of electricity per day.

In a statement on www.j-diocese.org,
Reverend Suheil S. Dawani, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, confirms this
situation of the Anglican hospital. He states: "'Everyday since the beginning
of military operations, the Al Ahli Arab (Anglican) Hospital has received 20-40
injured or wounded patients, in addition to those with non-conflict related
illnesses. About one-fourth of the patients are children."

The Bishop also notes: "The conflict has brought new types
of medical and surgical conditions. For example, patients with burns and acute,
crippling psychological trauma are being seen more frequently. Because it is
not possible for aid workers to enter Gaza at this time, the hospital's staff is
working around the clock. They are struggling with the effects of exhaustion
and limited resources in a conflicted area of ongoing military operations. Many
medical items are needed, especially bandages and supplies for burns and
trauma. The hospital's windows have all been blown out or shattered from rocket
and missile concussion. Cold permeates the entire premises."

According to an Open Doors field worker, the church in Gaza
is not gathering. He says: "Because of the dangerous situation, people
stay in their homes, and Christians do not gather for services anymore. They try
to stay in touch and pray with each other by telephone. From outside Gaza,
Christians try to contact family and friends by phone to exchange the latest
news and to pray and encourage each other."

About the situation of Pauline Ayyad, widow of Rami Ayyad–manager of the Bible shop in Gaza who was killed in 2007, Madanat confirmed:
"Pauline and the children arrived safe and well in Bethlehem since Christmas
Eve. They will stay in Bethlehem until things calm down.

Relief Help

Among others, the Palestinian Bible Society is offering help
for the victims of the war. Open Doors is co-supporting the relief consisting
of food supplies and other necessities.

The Palestinian Bible Society also realizes that it's not just Palestinians who suffer from this situation. In a recent newsletter it stated: "We
also understand the suffering that the Israelis are going through in the
different settlements and cities of the south. The continuing shelling of missiles
over civilians with only 15 seconds pre-warning is horrifying and
unacceptable."

The newsletter closed with a paragraph from Madanat. He writes: "Within the body of Christ, we are people who also belong to our
nations. This belonging and citizenship should receive meaning, value and form
from our belonging to our heavenly citizenship. Two days ago I was struck by
anger and pain. Yesterday I met my brother and colleague Victor Kalisher who is
a Messianic Jew. We debriefed, shared our hearts and prayed. The body of Christ
should be a safe territory to walk in the light, receive healing and practice
forgiveness. It should not be betrayed to become an additional battle ground."


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