Palestinian Christians Suffer in Silence
By Greg Musselman
Courtesy, Voice of the Martyrs, Canada
March 12, 2004
CWNews.org – Imagine sending your child to a public school, where he's taught to become a suicide bomber.
That's just one of the terrible dilemmas for Christians living in Palestinian territories, and they face these every day.
In that part of the world, openly sharing your faith can lead to a death sentence. Even so, some Christians are still living out their faith, despite the harsh consequences.
From a distance, the Judea/Samaria/West Bank villages look peaceful. But for those who have found salvation in Jesus Christ there, or in Gaza, life is anything but safe.
Many Christians - converts from Islam - have been threatened with death from Palestinian authorities. Some have ended up dead, others beaten or continually threatened.
The situation is so tense that soon after we began our interview with "Ali" - not his real name - he asked us to turn off the camera, even though his identity was hidden and his voice not audible. Even so, he's concerned that somehow Palestinian officials will find out that he spoke out against the abuses committed against him and other Christians.
To protect him, we darkened the image so much that his face cannot be seen at all, and we had no audio of him.
Among the abuses were those that occurred when "Ali" went to the police station. There he was beaten with rubber sticks and a sign put on his back that said "Ali, the Christian."
For the past 2 years Ali has been in hiding, sleeping outside and in a bomb shelter.
David Ortiz of Lovers of Zion Ministries who led 'Ali' to the Lord says the man we've called Ali is always in danger
Ortiz said, "He has a death contract out on him-that means kill him."
Ortiz explained, "He has a death contract out on him. They told him if he returns back to Islam he can return back to his normal life. In fact, they will also offer him a job to prosper his family if he will come back to Islam."
Further Ortiz said, "They gave him a time, and they gave him a deadline. They said if you do not return back to Islam by this date then you will never have forgiveness. So they put a death contract on him for 50 thousand shekels. If anybody sees him they are allowed to kill him."
After Ali became a Christian, Palestinian authorities beat up his mother, she later died of asthma. His wife was questioned for hours and told to divorce him. His house was ransacked.
But it's the way his children are being indoctrinated that is Ali's biggest concern.
Ortiz said, "The problem is, his children go to Palestinian schools; and in Palestinian schools they are teaching children how to become suicide bombers, encouraging them."
He added, "In fact they don't have that in a text book-it's not allowed-but they teach them [by doing] how to make bombs. A little boy seven years old was telling me, 'They taught me: take a potato, and you cut it in half, and then you throw in the chemicals.' They taught him what to use, what products of the household to use to make a bomb!"
Ortiz demonstrated the making of a bomb, then showed the horrible effects on people of a bus bombing in Jerusalem.
He went on, "Then they said, 'O bravo, you did such a great job, now you are going to move to a watermelon, and in other different ways to make bombs, because one day you will be a suicide bomber.'"
And Ortiz added, "This is what's being taught to Ali's son: that one day he will walk through the gate of Jerusalem and blow yourself up and go to heaven. So it's kind of hard for his son because Ali can't teach him [right and wrong] like he wants to."
I interviewed another Palestinian Christian, also from a Muslim background here in Israel. We'll call him 'Mustafa'. He did not want to appear on camera, fearing for the safety of his family.
'Mustafa' told us how he had received a letter to his home, along with a bullet, and also a warning that the next bullet would be for his head. This tactic was used to try to intimidate him and stop him from evangelizing among Muslims.
He told us "the Lord has been speaking to me." He says "I have a constant thought in my mind: one day my time will be coming, very soon, because: to deny the Lord-I can't, to run away-I can't. So one of these days these people are going to come for me."
Mustafa also says "I have that in my mind, [but] I also have in my mind that I'm going to be with Jesus Christ. One day I will see Him face to face, and everything I've been through will be worth it."
Mustafa has often been brought into the Palestinian secret police station. It's there that he's harassed and questioned. They are trying to get information from him about the names of other Christians living in the village. He refused to divulge that information.
Mustafa is involved in setting up secret Christian meetings in his village and these meetings constantly change location and times. His desire to see others come to Christ is actually happening
We were told that: "He brought two guys that belonged to a suicide organization called Hamas. He has just been a tremendous example, thank God!"
Justus Weiner is an Israeli scholar who has interviewed dozens of persecuted Muslim converts and their family members over the last seven years and has compassion for these Palestinian believers like 'Musafa' and 'Ali.'
Weiner is of the Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs. He said, "This reminds me of what it has been like for a Jew living in times of persecution, perhaps even during the pogroms or the holocaust. I was drawn to this man as a human being. What these people must be going through."
In addition, Weiner says life has become a living hell for these Palestinian Christians and he is surprised by the lack of interest or concern from other Christians around the world
He said, "I see them as wondering how they're going to survive. I see them as wondering why the billion or so Christians in the world don't take any apparent interest in their plight. Why people don't understand them and do something for them."
"These Palestinian Muslims," Wiener added, "that became believers-they have been an example to me. The Bible says: if you try to hold onto your life you are going to lose it anyhow, and if you lose your life for His sake you are going to gain it."
David Ortiz says some of the practical ways of helping are praying for them that the Lord will strengthen them. Or send a gift or a letter to encourage them. Also write to our government officials telling them these things are taking place.
For further information, contact:
David Ortiz, P.O. 1903
Visit the Voice of the Martyrs web site.
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