The Olive Tree Reconciliation Fund is committed to helping Belay and Schmuel Birlie. Will you help us? These two men are seeing the dividing walls of hostility come down between Jewish people! For an Orthodox Jew to accept Yeshua is a huge step, and a brave one because of the negative reaction they receive from the Orthodox community. We don’t know exactly how many Orthodox Jews are now believers in Yeshua, we only know it’s happening.
We also know that walls between Jew and Gentile are coming down. Those of us who run the Olive Tree Reconciliation Fund take very seriously the words of Paul in Ephesians 2:14-22 ... “For Christ Himself has made peace between us Jews and you Gentiles by making us all one people. He has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us. By his death he ended the whole system of Jewish law that excluded the Gentiles. His purpose was to make peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new person from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He has brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and to us Jews who were near. Now all of us, both Jews and Gentiles may come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.
So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. We are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also joined together as part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.”
For Jewish believers in Jesus (Messianic Jews) and Arab/Palestinian Christians living in Israel or the West Bank today, those verses from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians cut right through to the heart of the matter.
In a land occupied by two hurting peoples – Jews and Palestinians – both of whom claim to be the rightful occupier, where conflict and division, hatred and hopelessness are the norm; where physical barriers exist to keep these two people apart; where a political solution cannot be reached – do these words of Paul in Ephesians chapter 2 have any relevance today, and even if they are relevant is there the remotest chance that reconciliation between Jew and Palestinian is happening? Indeed, does anybody have the heart for it?
The answer is a resounding yes! Please visit our web site to read more stories of reconciliation taking place in Israel and the PA today, reconciliation between man and God, and between ‘enemies’. The walls are coming down; this is at the heart of what God is doing in Israel today and the repercussions will travel around the world.
As Avi Schneider, the European Director of Jews for Jesus said recently, “If you love Israel and the Jewish people, then understand we were chosen to be a light to the nations. The best way for the church to interfere with the process of world evangelization is to keep the gospel away from us Jews, and not to pray for the people who bring the gospel to the Jewish people and believe the lie that Jews don’t need Jesus (Y’shua) to be saved. But give us the gospel and pray for the salvation of Israel and pray for those of us who bring the gospel to our people, and we’ll bring the gospel to everybody we meet, because that’s why we were created!”
And what about the Muslims? Labib Madanat, Executive Director of Bible Society work in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza told me, “Muslims need to taste how good the Lord is because they are tired of deferred hopes. And what about the Jewish people? It is a unique position for an Arab going to a Jew to talk to him about the Jewish Jesus. I assure you we can get their full attention! I would say to the church in the west, be in tune with the heartbeat of the Father. Do not be distracted by politics. You can never change the heart of God from being a Father’s heart. He will always love Arabs and Jews the same and he wants the Church to carry the same heart.”
What do you do when you are a minority group living amongst people who are hostile to your beliefs? How do you develop a heart of compassion towards those who want to silence or even destroy you? This is the challenge facing both Jewish believers living in Israel and evangelical Arab Christians living in the West Bank in places like Bethlehem.
by Julia Fisher
Despite dire reports and media indifference, the Christian church in Israel and the areas of Palestine is growing among both Arab and Jewish communities. As this happens, Arabs and Jews are meeting, being reconciled, and working together.Meet Me at the Olive Tree tells 16 stories of these new Christians and how they find both forgiveness and new hope in their faith. These stories reveal the powerful childhood indoctrination and great social pressure that encourages the enmity we see on the news each night. But they also reveal the reconciliation and peace that is possible through the cross. These stories will stretch your mind and thrill your heart, as you embrace all that God is doing through both Jewish believers and Arab/Palestinian Christians living in Israel and the wider Middle East.