Mission workers may find obstacles in getting visas to Israel.

By April 30, 2004

Middle East (VOM/MNN)–Until recently, receiving a visa to serve as a Christian worker in Israel was relatively easy.

Published official documents say a clergy (A3) visa gets issued to those officially serving in Christian institutions. Voice of the Martyrs says this included a wide spectrum of Christian personnel: pastors, administrators, priests, nuns, and laity with special skills.

However, Middle East Concern (MEC) reports that this has recently changed. Rather than renewing visas for one or two years, as normal, many visa renewals are being delayed or extended for only a few months.

According to the reports, when visas requests are delayed, the Christian worker faces a dilemma; to stay means being an illegal alien. To leave means facing the
possibility of arrest at the airport or being refused future admission to the country.

Because there is currently no equivalent visa, church life is being threatened because many groups and church personnel are not being offered appropriate visas.

An April 27 release from MEC says these problems have affected various ministries in the country. The United Christian Council in Israel agrees. However, they say the only ones being allowed visa renewals are pastors with at least five hundred members in their church.

The work of many smaller ministries has been seriously affected. VOM says the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Church have also faced similar problems.

The UCCI has a meeting with the Ministry of Internal Affairs scheduled this week. Pray that these difficulties will be resolved and that Christian ministries in Israel will not be adversely affected by these difficulties.

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