Contact: Andrea Rhodes, United Bible Societies
SWINDON, England, July 14, 2015 /Christian Newswire
/ -- As pressure on Christians in the Middle East continues to mount, the Palestinian Bible Society has been encouraging and equipping churches to reach out with love to their communities in this 99% Muslim territory. This Ramadan - a sacred month of fasting for Muslims, which started on June 17 - it began two new initiatives to serve their Muslim neighbours in a very practical way.
Every evening during Ramadan Bible Society staff, members of the Palestinian national force, and volunteers from churches have been going out onto the streets of Zababdeh, a town in Jenin Province in the northern West Bank, to offer packs of dates and bottled water to people unable to get home on time to break their fast.
"It's a simple gesture of care that is so appreciated by our Muslim brothers and sisters," notes Bible Society Executive Secretary Nashat Filmon. "Thousands of people are talking about it on social media, and Christians in other towns who heard about this also began similar initiatives."
Last week, the Bible Society took this act of hospitality a step further by hosting a special 'iftar' or 'breaking fast' Ramadan dinner for prominent people in Jenin Province.
It was attended by 500 people, including the deputy governor, the head of the province's security forces, more than 20 district mayors, two muftis, and many imams and church leaders. The event was broadcast on national television and an important national newspaper published an article about it.
"Our Bible Society values the friendship that has existed between the Christian and Muslim communities for many years," said Mr. Filmon in his speech to welcome the guests. "This dinner is an affirmation of that friendship.
"Palestine is a unique and special place, where Crescent and Cross, church and mosque, sheikh and priest, nun and veiled sister have lived side by side for centuries. We are all united in wanting a better life for those in our homeland."
Mr. Filmon ended with a plea to surrounding countries to take similar initiatives in order to promote unity and uproot enmity. The event ended with a resounding affirmation from the audience to have similar gatherings in the future.
"We need to seek out creative ways to build better relationships and raise the profile of the body of Christ - the Church - in this land, where the Christian community is diminishing," notes Mr. Filmon. "If you spread love, people will receive it. If you spread hatred and animosity, they will receive it. So we decided to send out a message of love. In the light of what ISIS is doing, killing and displacing hundreds of thousands of Christians, this gesture of love and compassion by Christians is very poignant.
"Please pray as we seek to carry out our mission statement to 'live and give, serve and proclaim the Word of God.'"
Photographs to accompany this press release can be downloaded here: www.flickr.com/photos/united_bible_societies/sets/72157655843361102