For years, The Joshua Fund has been encouraging and ministering with a dear group of brothers and sisters who faithfully bring the light of the Gospel to several larger cities as well as small Arab towns and villages throughout Northern Israel.

These treasured saints had on their hearts to encourage and help mature the young, Arab believers throughout the Northern Galilee by providing time to travel to Bethlehem and gather around God’s Word during the Christmas season.

So last December, some 200 Arab youth and leaders came from 16 congregations throughout Northern Israel to hear the Word of God. From a wide variety of backgrounds (Baptist, Nazarene, Brethren and more) and from many different cities and villages in the Galilee, as well as Bethlehem and Ramallah in the West Bank, they came together to worship and praise the Lord, committing to learn more of Him and to grow deeper in their walk. Even before December’s actual gathering, these young people embraced the idea with zeal, with an encouraging number being deeply involved in the planning of this youth gathering.

Most people in this region are alert to the Lord’s birth in Bethlehem, so Christmas provides a unique moment of opportunity when people are more open to hearing and understanding the purpose and plan of Jesus’ coming to earth. What was most thrilling was the heart and boldness displayed by these young people who planned to attend the event, each of whom prayed and sought to bring along an unbelieving friend! This included many from nominal or merely ‘historic Christian’ homes and backgrounds - as well as many from Muslim families and villages. This large, diverse group came together, joining on a multi-bus trip into Bethlehem for a two-day conference – experiencing true times of refreshing from the Lord! Meeting with some of the local youth from Bethlehem as well, together they spent their time in worship, Bible study and prayer, as well as visiting a few key locations around Bethlehem.

For most of the Israeli Arab youth and adults attending, it was also the first time that they participated in a gathering that included their brothers and sisters from the West Bank. At first, the air was thick with uncertainty, much more than even the organizers had anticipated. One young man from Ramallah remarked that he expected the Israelis to think of themselves as being somehow ‘better’’ than those living in the West Bank, while the Israeli youth shared concerns that those from the West Bank would be angry with them and that the unspoken political views would create a vast divide.

In demonstration of the grace of God, and through much prayer by the gathering’s organizers, they were all thankfully proven wrong! There was a strong spiritual urging from the youth and an unexpected response from them in the number of commitments to Christ that were made. They witnessed new spiritual births and also saw the Lord identify and begin calling out future leaders to Himself. Though this was also the first time some had been inside ‘the wall’ around Bethlehem, the gathering’s clear purpose - to unite these young believers to see and worship Jesus as Redeemer - was a great testimony and critical focus for those who attended. Such a deep hunger for fellowship became evident that almost from the outset, this was clearly not going to remain merely ‘an annual event.’ Many of the young people requested, almost insisted, that further time together be made available - once a year was simply not enough!

One young Muslim woman who came at the invitation of a friend from her village said that she was surprised how many Muslims were attending and seeking. Many of the believing youth shared testimonies and gave thanks for what the Lord did in their lives and shared of the holy fire burning within them to make decisions to leave old gods and habits, recommitting themselves to the Lord and setting Him first in their lives.

One of the local ministers remarked, “We have witnessed special times of God’s affirmation embodied in the tears of the youth and their commitment anew to God; we felt as if God were setting a firm foundation for the continuity of the building up and shaping in the life of this young generation. We believe a new generation is born - one that will make new history in this land.”

Prayer Requests

We so appreciate all your prayers and support and would ask you to continue to go before the Lord on behalf of our brothers and sisters from all over the Land of Israel.

/1/ Please ask the Lord to continue the work that he began in these young people’s lives, specifically that they will be strong and continue to grow and share the love of Christ.

/2/ Please be in prayer for several other events in 2015, that the Lord would provide all that is needed and draw many to future events where they can hear the truth of His Word.

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