Impact Palestinian Territories | 03 July 2024

Helping Palestinian Christians find hope and healing


Show: false / Country: Palestinian Territories /
War has been raging for eight months in Gaza, one of the Palestinian Territories. The fighting and bombing have taken their toll; many thousands of civilians have been killed in the war. 

But the war between Hamas and Israel has also deeply impacted the Palestinian Christian community. In Bethlehem, which is in the West Bank (the Palestinian Territory where about 45,000 Christians live), streets that normally teem with pilgrims and tourists are empty. More than 500 Palestinians have died in the West Bank since the war with Hamas began, so the emptiness makes sense. Many shops are closed, hotels have no guests, and the restaurants are empty. 

“Most Christians in Bethlehem work in the tourist sector, now they have no work, no income as there are no tourists,” says Christian tour operator Elias Ghareeb, one of the Palestinian Christians who earn their living from the thousands of tourists visiting the place. As there are no tourists around, he has no work. 

Of course, the situation is even more desperate for believers in Gaza. According to local church sources in Gaza, 33 Christians have lost their lives in the war—out of the 1,070 Christians in Gaza who lived there when the conflict began. 

The material damage and loss for believers is massive. Many people lost everything as they saw their houses turned into rubble. The need is great.

A foundational vision

Open Doors is responding to the needs of local believers, working through our local partners to strengthen the church in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. This work has been a part of our ministry since the days of our founder, Brother Andrew, best known around the world as “God’s Smuggler.” Andrew didn’t simply believe in the need to stand with Israeli and Palestinian Christians. He demonstrated it by traveling numerous times to the region, forming deep relationships with Palestinian Christians in both Gaza and the West Bank, Messianic believers and Arab Christians in Israel. 

He also shocked the world by meeting with leaders of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad! He didn’t seek a meeting to legitimize these groups—but because he believed they needed to know Jesus above all else. Whenever he could, Brother Andrew took the opportunity to speak with them about the power of the gospel to change their lives.

In his book, Light Force (written with Al Janssen), Brother Andrew’s words seem prophetic for the current time. “The unending conflict sickened me, but what hurt even more was knowing that my brothers and sisters were caught in the midst of the fighting. Believers in Jesus Christ lived in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. … I was convinced that there was a contribution that the Christian community could make. Perhaps it was only to be a light.” 

That’s why, through our local partners, Open Doors is working hard to support and offer hope and light to our brothers and sisters in the Palestinian Territories.

Bringing hope and light

One way is through online youth ministry. Salim Khair is a young Palestinian Christian with a heart to reach other young people with the hope of Jesus. He’s particularly burdened for young Palestinians who grew up in the church but have since turned away from the faith. 

That’s why he started a “DNA Group,” which is a group of Christians using social media to connect with other youth—first in the Palestinian Territories, but also around the region—and bring them together at events. 

“We want to spark their interest again in the subject in the matter of religion, to show, to teach them the indispensable morals and values that Christianity teaches,” Salim says. “We’re working really hard to make an impact and for our impact to be seen worldwide, especially here in Palestine. We want to make [an impact] to change and to [help] everyone to see that it is possible to make a change in our society.” In the midst of such devastating conflict and turmoil, this kind of change and hope is desperately needed.

Listen to Salim’s heart for young believers:
In Gaza, Open Doors will begin trauma care for the believers there. Rami is one of the experts who is involved in the preparations for the trauma care program. He lives in Bethlehem and is a Palestinian Christian himself. He is well aware of both the generational trauma and the war trauma that has impacted every believer in Gaza. 

“I confidently can say that all Palestinians [not only in Gaza] are traumatized,” he explains. “The need is beyond what we can offer. We will focus on the Christian community, as no one is working with the Christians. We want to restore hope in this community, in order to have Christians stay in the land [where] they belong.”

Rami’s perspective—and especially his faith in Jesus—gives him a powerful way to address the situation. “Trauma in the Palestinian context is inherited, it is intergenerational, not from one incident,” he says. “It is generations of Palestinians who have suffered [...] and somehow they have transferred this trauma, this fear, this oppression, to their children, and the children transferred it to their children, so it made me see trauma as a cycle, rather than an incident. 

“Such trauma,” Rami explains, “intervenes in people’s identity. They tend to see themselves as victims, not as the salt and light of the Land. They see themselves as worthless, not important, not able to do anything, never able to be free. It becomes part of us; we lose faith, faith in our presence in this country and therefore we decide to leave.”

Rami and his team are working on a program to train Palestinian Christians in the West Bank who can travel to Gaza and offer trauma care to Christians in Gaza—many of whom have lost everything in the war. The goal is to, in the words of Revelation 3:2 that God gave to Brother Andrew, “strengthen what remains.” Rami says that they will help whomever remains in Gaza. 

He knows it will not be an easy path. “It is a huge task and we need to be steadfast,” he says. 

But his guide is Jesus—and how He came to earth to serve, to relate, to heal. “We are servants, to restore hope and bring people back to the church and to Christ,” Rami says. “Jesus also lived under occupation. He knows what it is. If we walk His walk, we bring change. Now there is a chance, to turn misery and darkness into an opportunity for lighting up people’s lives.”  

Open Doors partners are hard at work helping to keep the light of Jesus burning in the Palestinian Territories, even in the darkness of war. And we need to pray with them, that the witness of God’s people will shine even more brightly.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in the Palestinian Territories during this difficult time. Pray for those in Gaza and those in the West Bank. Ask God to comfort and strengthen them. Pray that believers there will be faithful workers. And pray that God will raise up men and women—people like Rami and Salim—who will help bring faith and hope to a desperately hurting society.


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