By George Whitten, BosNewsLife Chief Middle East Correspondent
GAZA CITY/JERUSALEM (BosNewsLife)– Christians in the Gaza Strip faced another terrifying day Thursday, January 15, as Israeli forces pounded the Gaza Strip and Hamas militants fired rockets towards Israel, believers said.
“A few days ago we heard about a Christian, who was drinking tea with his neighbor on the sixth floor of their apartment building,” said Pastor Hanna Massad, of the Baptist Church in Gaza City in a statement released by advocacy group Open Doors. “The Christian man then was called down by his wife. A few moments after he had gone downstairs a missile came down, shaking the building to its foundation.”
The pastor said when the man ran back upstairs he saw that the floor, where he had been sitting a few minutes before, was directly hit by the projectile. “His neighbor died instantly.”
Open Doors, which supports the up to 3,000 Christians living in the Gaza Strip, quoted its field worker as saying that the Baptist Church in Gaza is not able to hold worship services. “Because of the dangerous situation, people stay in their homes and Christians do not gather for services anymore,” the worker was said, apparently speaking on condition of anonymity because of the security situation.
“They try to stay in touch and pray with each other by telephone. From outside Gaza, Christians try to contact family and friends by phone to exchange the latest news and to pray and encourage each other.”
The Palestinian Bible Society (PBS), another group active in the region, said it realized that not only Palestinians suffer “from this situation.” The PBS told BosNewsLife’s news agency partner Worthy News that it understands also “the suffering that the Israelis are going through in the different settlements and cities of the south.” The “continuing shelling of missiles over civilians with only 15 seconds pre-warning” was in its words “horrifying and unacceptable.”
Labib Madanat, Development Director of the United Bible Society in Israel and Palestine told Worthy News in a newsletter that it was important for believers around the world to realize that, “Within the body of Christ, we are people who also belong to our nations.” He said that, “This belonging and citizenship should receive meaning, value and form from our belonging to our heavenly citizenship.”
Madanat said he was “struck by annger and pain” two days ago when he met a Messianic Jew, identified as his Victor Kalisher. “We shared our hearts and prayed. The Body of Christ should be a safe territory to walk in the light, receive healing and practice forgiveness.”
There have been different views within churches about the military role of Israel in this conflict and the country’s future. However, he said, the unity of born again Christians in what they call ‘the Body of Christ’ should “not be betrayed or become an additional battle ground,” a war rages across the region.