Palestine (MNN) — On May 15, Palestinians observed the Nakba, (translated literally, the catastrophe) commemorating when thousands of Palestinians, including a large percentage of Christians, were driven out of their homes in 1948.
After World War II, world powers reorganized the borders of the Middle East without taking the populations into account. Thousand of Palestinians were killed or driven from their homes as the modern state of Israel was formed, and this refugee crisis has not been resolved to this day.
Jack Sara of Bethlehem Bible College says, “It’s a huge issue that somehow the Christians of the West either were not aware of or just had dismissed and thrown under the carpet.”
The reason? Many Christian groups in the United States align strongly with Israel, seeing the country as fulfilling biblical prophecy. That its founding caused so much destruction and pain, especially to fellow Christians, is unsettling.
Sara describes what happened. “Over 700,000 Palestinians became refugees. And a lot of them became internally displaced people within Palestine and Israel. Or They had to flee to other countries. Many of them had to flee out of fear for their lives, yet a lot of them were evacuated out of their towns and cities and villages. Many of these villages . . . some were destroyed and erased so that people cannot go back.”
This story is personal for Sara and other Palestinian Christians. Both his grandfathers lost their houses during the Nakba. “Both became refugees, somewhere. Thankfully, they were refugees within their own city. They moved from West Jerusalem to East Jerusalem. But many people had to flee to Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, as well as other countries.”
Sara says these refugees settled in their new countries, but no amends have ever been made for their displacement.
Impact on the Palestinian Christians community
Palestinians Christians have a special connection to this sad day because so many of those driven out were Christians. Sara says, “At that time over 50,000 Christians became refugees, not just Muslims. Because people think that this is only a Muslim/Jewish thing. But over 50,000 of these 700,000 refugees were Christians.”
Fleeing Christians established many churches in Jordan and other countries, Sara says. But Palestine now longer has a thriving Christian community. Christians make up only 1 percent of the population.
So many Palestinians still live as refugees, and anger from their displacement has led to several wars and continuous conflict in Palestine since that time.
Pray that Christians in Palestine would feel the presence and love of Jesus Christ and that the Church there would grow. Thank God for what Palestinian Christians have done in countries like Jordan, building churches after the Nakba.
Pray especially that violence in Palestine would end.
The wall partially surrounding Bethlehem stands as a constant reminder of the Nakba. (Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Bible College on Facebook)