Violence and lack of tourism in West Bank is hurting Christians

By December 21, 2006

West Bank (MNN) — Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers as a gun battle broke out as forces attempted to arrest them. This is just another example of violence in the West Bank that’s keeping tourists out of Bethlehem, the city’s of Christ’s birth.

This is having a direct impact on Palestinian Christians there, says Chief Executive Officer of the World Evangelical Alliance, Geoff Tunnicliffe. “Bethlehem is in the West Bank area and has a wall around it. And, so it’s very difficult for tourists to get in. In fact, a year ago there would have be 200 busses going in a day. Today, there may be five busses going in as tourists. And, many of the Christians are dependant upon the tourist trade.”

The problems have forced many Christians to take drastic measures. “Because of the economics, because of the stress they’re under. Many Christians have had to leave the area. So, they’re really under pressure and our concern is that The Light stays brightly shining in Bethlehem,” says Tunnicliffe.

The World Evangelical Alliance has done something to help that. “We officially accepted them in as our 128 member of the World Evangelical Alliance. You know, we have a National Evangelical Alliance in Israel and they were very supportive of it. So, we felt is was absolutely the right thing to do to bring a voice to those who are voiceless and connect them in to the body of Christ.”

According to Tunnicliffe, believes in the region aren’t asking for much. “When I met with the leaders, I said, ‘what’s the best thing that we can do for you?’ They said, ‘Would you ask Christians around the world to just pray for us. Pray that we’ll stay strong in our faith and not be impacted negatively by the circumstances around us.”

Tennicliffe says this gives Christians in the Palestinian held areas hope and encouragement. Pray that they’ll use it to point many to Christ.

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