On the morning of Sunday July 6, my friends Rev. Attallah Issawi and Rev. Mousa Allawi have been attacked by Jewish settlers. Both pastors were going to church but were stopped by a group of settlers. The army was there too but did not interfere. Rev. Attallah who was the driver was informed that the Jewish settlers will hurt them. He responded quickly and made a U-Turn cruising away as fast as possible. The same settlers threw big stones at them breaking the rear windows and damaging the body of the car. Then they chased them for almost 5 kilometers until Attallah entered a nearby Palestinian town. They were safe.
I called Rev. Mousa whom I knew since many years. We served together and he encouraged members from his church to attend my class on the gospel of John that I taught in Ramla, next to Tel Aviv area. Mousa expressed his deep gratitude for God’s grace and for the safety of all the passengers of the attacked car. He reminded me of many Christians who believe in God’s sovereignty and who are grateful for every extra day in our lives. "We live for the Lord and we are ready to serve Him wherever he leads". Rev. Mousa was not only thankful for his safety but also expressed his willingness to serve the Lord wherever is needed. He is willing to continue to extend the Kingdom of God in dangerous places.
Later, I called Rev. Attallah. Both of us served together at Bethlehem Bible College. Attallah is an excellent teacher and students chose him as the teacher of the year more than once. He was the director of the Tour Guide program at Bethlehem Bible College and we enjoyed his administrative skills and spiritual insights. He is indeed a man of God. Attallah is no longer serving in Bethlehem. He is now serving faithfully in a village called Aboud. Anyway, I was moved by Attallah’s commitment to Christ in the midst of this turmoil. He not only thanked God for his safety but he insisted on spreading the love of God and his Justice. He had no bitterness but instead had pity on those who are deceived by the evil one. Further, he expressed his disappointment with many Christian Zionists who overlook the pain of Palestinian Christians blinded by eschatological charts and supporting settlements instead of empowering the followers of Jesus.
There are some lessons that we can learn from these godly pastors. First, both of them are willing to suffer for the sake of Christ. Both are willing to continue serving in a context in which there is a lot of tension. They choose to suffer like a candle that burns in order to maintain the light of Christ in a country full of darkness. Second, both are committed to spreading peace and the love of Jesus Christ even to the people who attacked them. They are not against Jewish Settlers or any Jew but against oppression. They walk in the footsteps of our Lord whose love is not limited by ethnicity, or language. Third, both persevere in fighting injustices prayerfully and peacefully. Amazingly, they were calm and expressed deep trust in the Lord.
Last, let us pray for all the persecuted and the ones who suffer injustices especially in Israel and Palestine. Let us commit ourselves to spread the Kingdom of the Messiah among both Palestinians and Jews. Christ died for both of them. Let us support people like Rev. Issawi and Alawi who are serving God at the front lines.