Church growth, evangelism and discipleship is happening in the Middle East.

By August 22, 2005

Gaza (MNN) — Israeli troops plan to finish clearing out the Gaza Settlements this week, several weeks ahead of schedule. Most of the settlements have been evacuated, though with anguish, tears and some violence.

But tensions continue to run high as resistant Jewish settlers have violently protested the evacuation and Palestinian militants have tried to exert their control. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has repeatedly said his decision to withdraw from Gaza was the hardest he ever made.

It’s quite tumultuous, says E3 Partners Tom Doyle: “With this all-out war in the midst of Gaza right now as the Israelis are pulling out, the terrorist groups are flexing their muscles and trying to prove that they’re in charge.”

Christians are in the middle of it, says Doyle, “And so the believers’ lives have been threatened. And many of them stay in. They meet in small groups at night and just take cars and cabs to places that are safe, and away from the terrorist hot spots.”

But even in the middle of this upheaval, thousands of believers have received Evangecube training, and are actively sharing Christ through the puzzle-like picture Evangecube. Doyle says despite the turmoil, “These are great days for us as far as evangelism, because people are open and even in the most difficult places, the Gospel is still going forward.”

God is working through His faithful people to bring many to Himself, but it’s not an easy situation to live in, says Doyle. “The believers in the Gaza Strip say they’ve never been to jail, but they live in a prison. They live in a five mile by 25 mile strip that they can’t get out of. So they cling to each other as believers. They really cling to each other, and serve Christ together. It’s a difficult situation, and sometimes they get down, but knowing that believers in America are praying for them is such an encouragement.

Prayer for peace and safety are needed. “We just have to pray for believers in these difficult places like Iraq and Syria and the Gaza Strip because they go forward and do their work and lead people to Christ in the midst of it, and their lives are threatened every day. So for them, every day is a victory that they can serve God and see a move in their midst, even if the times are real, real difficult and it looks like an all-out war, which is really what’s happening there.”

Outreach to those going through the evacuation looks hopeful, “We know that when people have traumatic situations like this in their life, it is a time that they open up more to the Gospel, and so we’re praying that there’ll be some real inroads made into Jewish evangelism in Israel right now, considering that they’re going through such a difficult time. So pray for the Jews, pray for the Palestinians, pray that God just keeps moving and they keep coming to Christ in record numbers,” says Doyle.

The church is growing, and Christians are making a difference, despite what looks like a dire situation. Doyle is excited to see what God is doing: “They are growing and more people are coming to Christ and they’re planting churches, and even in the midst of the bad times, God’s work is still on schedule and the program is still moving forward, and really, a lot of great things are happening in the Gaza Strip.”

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