• March 08, 2006
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    Christian student centre firebombed
Christian student centre firebombed "This love comes from Christ. We see God's image in them, as it is in all humanity, and they deserve to be loved."

But on 28 February, Islamic terrorists attacked the Bible Society's student centre, Living Stones, in the West Bank university town of Bir Zeit, smashing windows, hurling two Molotov cocktails into the building and scrawling red graffiti on the exterior walls in large, Arabic script that read, "Leave our land and get out of here," "We are following in your footsteps, O Prophet Muhammad" and "Allah is greatest".

Islamists had previously set Living Stones ablaze on 18 November 2005, and had smashed in some of its windows a week before the 28 February attack.

After the Gaza bookshop's steel and glass doors were bombed on 3 February, terrorists threatened to kill the landlord and others living in the building unless the Bible Society vacated it by 28 February.

It also warned the Bible Society not to continue its ministry elsewhere in the Palestinian areas.

The Palestinian Bible Society has an office in East Jerusalem and six more centres in the areas governed by the Palestinian Authority.

Their centre in Nablus was closed several years ago due to a tense political situation.

The Palestinian Authority police recently said there is now chaos in Gaza and the West Bank in general. This chaos affects many aspects of life.

Ministry continues


Bible Society workers cleaned and repaired the building and continued the centre's community ministry until increased death threats to the bookshop workers led the Society's directors to temporarily close the bookshop.

The student centre in Bir Zeit will however remain open.

Open Doors helps to support the Palestinian Bible Society and the Gaza bookshop. Labib described how the tiny Christian community associated with the Bible Society in Gaza have impacted Muslims with the love of Christ:

"We are serving the people of Gaza," Labib said. "The hostility we are experiencing is because of our service work to the community.

"We are close to the people. We love them by serving them, hugging them, and being there for them. That is what Satan doesn't like.

"People have come to the Lord and we couldn't understand why there wasn't much opposition to date, because although we don't invite martyrdom or persecution, Jesus tells us we need to expect it."

Meanwhile, Open Doors mobilised Christians worldwide to pray with urgency about the Gaza situation.

Tensions


As the 28 February deadline passed, Christian ministry had increased, becoming more effective and has begun spreading into other locations with the cooperation of organisations such as Palestinian NGOs and local school officials who have stood in solidarity with Bible Society workers.

?We know that danger is around us, but we are still working,? said the Palestinian Bible Society's acting secretary general, Nashat Filmon.

"God is good," Labib said. "Out of this chaos, God has brought good. Our God is mighty and it is time to live in that truth.

"We want to thank Open Doors for being such a wonderful family for us at this time. We specifically want to thank Brother Andrew for teaching us how to live out mission without fear and in love.

Labib also stressed the ministry's love for Muslims:

"You are never afraid of the people you love," he said.

A Palestinian Bible Society staff member said: "What has happened will not only affect the centre but will also increase tensions between Christians and Muslims living in this place.

"Please pray that the Lord will stop this ongoing cycle of hatred and evil. We are fully trusting in Him."

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