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An Unlikely Pair for Peace

Contact: Jennifer Thomasson, 270-534-0792

PADUCAH, Ky., Dec. 12, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- Tayseer Hajjah and Terry McIntosh are an unlikely pair for the cause of peace and religious tolerance in the Middle East.

Hajjah, a Commanding Officer serving with the Palestinian Authority Security Office, and McIntosh, a Christian Evangelist from the United States, may hail from different backgrounds and experience, but they share the same goals, and are making the vision come true.

Hajjah's background includes service as Security Chief, Jericho District, Palestine where he first met McIntosh several years ago. McIntosh originally planted a Christian Chapel in an Islamic dominated society in 1996, and had come to the attention of Islamic radicals, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority due to his public activities which included public meetings, television, and radio programs. Islamic opponents to McIntosh's chapel, the Jesus House of Prayer, levied charges against him that included spying for Israel, running a prostitution ring, and harming the cause of the Palestinian people. Some Christian peers accused McIntosh of harboring terrorists in his chapel and, according to McIntosh, did more harm to the work than Islamic radicals could ever do.

Enter Tayseer Hajjah. Reports claiming that McIntosh was a spy kept mounting up on his desk. He made a decision to personally investigate McIntosh and the work he was doing. His job description mandated that he protect the Palestinian people from spies and anyone else who might harm the cause and welfare of the people. Hajjah disguised himself as a simple citizen and drew close to form a friendship with McIntosh to uncover the truth about the Jesus House of Prayer ministry. He discovered that McIntosh and his volunteers were helping everyone who had a need without discrimination regarding faith and that his activities had nothing to do with politics, but rather human rights and respect for individual choices. The harder he tried to expose McIntosh as a fraud, the more convinced he became that all the reports were false, and that the chapel work was actually helping instead of harming Palestinians. He and McIntosh became close friends, and the relationship blossomed.

Radical Islam teaches that converts to Christianity are to be killed, and after a prominent Gaza Christian was murdered by Islamic radicals in 2007, Colonel Hajjah joined McIntosh in his call for peace and religious tolerance, but not without intimidation. "Rami Ayyad's death was the result of a radical belief system that demands adherence to Islam. He was killed because he was demonstrating the love of Christ to Muslims. He was murdered by cowards in the disguise of religion, and it was not a pious act. It was murder," McIntosh said.

Considering that Middle East Christians are under fire in several countries, and the recent grouping of Al-Qaida cells in Palestine, McIntosh says "Islam must purge itself of extremists, and civilized people must take a firm stand against its radical teachings. Some moderate Muslims are doing that, but it will take many voices to apply pressure upon the Islamic world to police themselves."

This unlikely pair calls upon all faiths to teach peace and tolerance of other religious faiths and the right to choose what one believes without fear of retribution. Although religious differences among Palestinians are often cloaked by nationalism, Hajjah says, "My people just want to live in peace, raise their children, send them to school, and have a good life. There are Christians and Muslims in Palestine, and tolerance of each other's religious choice is crucial to that peace."

Make no doubt that McIntosh and his volunteers are Christians who preach Christ crucified, but he does not coerce others into sharing his beliefs. "All we can do is share the good news. It then becomes an individual choice, and that choice must be respected and legally enforced."

The unlikely pair is hosting meetings in Palestine to further advance the goal of religious freedom and the right to choose what one believes. If your Church or ministry is interested in being a part of this dynamic front line ministry, you can contact McIntosh by email at jerusalemdirect@usajourney.us or his US office by phone at 270.534.0792.