US-Israel ties complicate Gospel work in Lebanon

By January 10, 2024

Lebanon (MNN) — The Israel-Hamas war in Gaza is affecting Gospel work in neighboring Lebanon.

Documents like the Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel create an impression that all U.S. evangelical Christians agree on supporting Israel unconditionally and how the U.S. government should approach the Israel-Hamas war.

In reality, Christian thought varies widely regarding the war and how the U.S. government should respond. On November 9, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) and 30 American Christian leaders asked the Biden administration to “support an immediate ceasefire, de-escalation, and restraint by all involved.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence delivers remarks at the Christians United for Israel Washington Summit in Washington, D.C. on Monday, July 8, 2019. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

“It’s [commonly thought] that evangelical Christians are the main force behind funds for the weapons that Israel is using to do mass killings right now in Gaza,” Pierre Houssney with Horizons International says.

“When you’re talking to Muslim people, and the Muslims are saying, ‘How could you, as Christians, finance weapons that are killing people and finance a regime in Israel?’ – it’s really difficult to do evangelism,” he continues. “But that is not stopping us.”

The division among Christians often draws on doctrinal differences regarding how Israel is defined and its role in end-time events.

“Some Christians look at Paul’s definition of Israel in Galatians 3, Romans 9, and Romans 11 as spiritual descendants; everybody in Christ is Israel,” Houssney explains.

“Others look at it [as] a simplistic definition; the state of Israel is the Israel of the Bible.”

Regarding financial support issues, the Biden administration added Israel to its broader military aid request for Ukraine, Southeast Asia, and the southern U.S. border in October. That proposal remains gridlocked in Congress today, so none of the proposed $10 billion in military aid has reached Israel yet.

But perception is reality. “It does not help the cause of the Gospel throughout the world that evangelical Christians are being known as the financers of mass destruction,” Houssney says.

“We cannot let these things stop us from sharing the Gospel, but we also have to recognize that it causes a lot of complexity.”

Pray believers in the region will be faithful ambassadors for Jesus, no matter what happens in the political realm.

“Whether you believe in this eschatology or that eschatology, we still need to be acting in harmony with the teachings of Jesus,” Houssney says.

“We need to stand with loving the sojourner, loving the foreigner. This is throughout the Old Testament and New Testament; this is God’s command.”




Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Karolina Grabowska/Unsplash.

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