Bond Between Christians and People of Israel Strengthened by The Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem
Contact: Melany Ethridge, 214-912-8934, Melany@alarryross.com
BUFFALO, Oct. 15 /Christian Newswire/ -- Millions of Christians from more than 150,000 churches around the world prayed simultaneously Sunday, Oct. 7, for peace in Jerusalem. A special celebration and prayer event in Jerusalem – broadcast to 200 nations by God TV - drew both Arab and Jewish dignitaries despite political and religious pressure not to attend any Christian gatherings.
A truly multi-national and multi-faith event, Christian leaders from the Holy Land also participated while over 600 guests - Jewish, Arab, and Christians from dozens of nations - attended the gathering at the Haas Promenade overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem.
With thousands of Christians in Jerusalem for the Sukkot holiday and the fifth annual Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem (www.daytopray.com), the Chief Rabbinate unexpectedly issued a ruling that Jewish people could not participate in the Christian events. However, two prominent Orthodox leaders – Rabbis Shlomo Riskin and Benny Elon – not only attended the Jerusalem celebration, but spoke out in support of Judeo-Christian relations.
"Our best friends in the United States are Christians, offering love, friendship, and partnership," Rabbi Riskin said. "We would be foolish not to take advantage of it, especially during these troubled times." Rabbi Riskin, Efrat's founder and communal clergy leader, was overwhelmed with emotion from the support of the Christian community toward Israel and proclaimed he knows now that "the God of love and humanity will reign supreme."
While there was no "official" ruling against Arab attendance, Amell Saffouri, an Arab Christian lawyer from Nazareth, risked censure from the Arab community by participating in the event. She prayed from the platform, encouraging all peoples of faith to "participate, not just speculate" in finding common ground for peace, rather than war.
Current Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has also expressed his appreciation for what the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem can accomplish. "Christians across the world are our genuine partners in our prayer for unity and peace in the city of Jerusalem," he said.
Robert Stearns, executive director of Eagles' Wings Ministries (www.eagleswings.to) and co-chairman of the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, said, "I believe the effects of this event will be long-lasting and far-reaching," Stearns said. "After 2000 years of Christian persecution of Jewish people and distrust between the Jewish and Christian communities – to be at this point in Judeo-Christian cooperation is truly miraculous and historic. This is just the beginning; I am excited about what the future holds – especially regarding peace in Jerusalem."
Another program participant, Orthodox Jew David Nekrutman, who previously lived in New York and worked with the Israeli Consulate there, spoke of the important timing of this event. "The relationship between the Evangelical Christian world and the Jewish people is truly a scared historic moment. No other time in the two millennia has there been such a deep connection between both religions from a sense of faith and goodwill. As an Orthodox Jew living in Israel, the relationships with my Christian friends are like the brotherhood between David and Jonathan in the Bible. May we continue to further God's history together."
A local Christian leader, David Davis, Senior Pastor of Carmel Assembly in Haifa, Israel, spoke of the sense of unity that permeated the prayer celebration. "The Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem on the promenade overlooking the ancient city was a powerful demonstration of the commitment of Christians worldwide to carry God's heart for the nation of Israel. There was a strong presence of the Lord felt throughout the event and we believe our united prayers were heard in heaven," Davis said.
Succat Hallel (Hebrew for "Tabernacle of Praise") director Rick Ridings expressed his gratitude "for the vision of Robert Stearns and his team to show Israel that she does have friends who are committed to stand with her through these difficult times." Ridings indicated that a local newspaper, which generally does not cover Evangelical Christians in Israel, gave the event very favorable coverage. "At a time when so many are turning their backs on Israel and ignoring the alarming rise in anti-Semitism, the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem was a great encouragement here in Israel," he said.
Other well known participants and attendees included Minister of Knesset Elhanan Glazer; the former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Hon. Daniel Ayalon; Jerusalem's former Greek Orthodox Patriarch Irineos; and Chuck Pierce, founder of Glory of Zion International Ministries.
Ambassador Ayalon said that no other work was more important in his time as Israel's Ambassador to the United States than "cultivating a true friendship alliance between Jews and Christians." He told the Christians gathered there that you are "people with faith who understand their Bible, heritage and history. Not only do you strengthen us but you make us feel we are not alone." He added that the relationship between the two faiths "ensures the existence of the State of Israel."
Under the leadership of Rev. Stearns, the Jerusalem host committee leaders included Rev. Wayne Hilsden, Senior Pastor of King of Kings Assembly; Mrs. Rebecca Brimmer, International Executive Director of Bridges for Peace; Malcolm Hedding, Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; Ray and Sharon Sanders, International Directors of Christian Friends of Israel; and Petra Heldt, Executive Secretary of the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel.
The Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem is coordinated by Eagles' Wings Ministries, which sponsors several initiatives in support of Israel and Christian discipleship. Others include "Watchman on the Wall" prayer training seminars and pilgrimages to Israel, student adventure trips for high school students and in-depth learning trips for college students to Israel, plus many teaching resources, internships, and conferences.
Note to Editors: Rev. Robert Stearns is available for interviews regarding the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem. Please contact Melany Ethridge at (214) 912-8934 or via Melany@alarryross.com, for more information or to arrange an interview.