Ten years ago, in the Israeli city of Haifa, a tragic but remarkable event took place. A 20-year-old Palestinian man boarded a bus full of schoolchildren in Haifa and blew himself up, killing 17 and injuring 53.
Hamas took credit for the massacre and Saddam Hussein sent a $25,000 reward to the family of the terrorist. One of those killed was Abigail Litle, the 14-year-old daughter of American Baptist missionaries.
Abigail’s funeral at Beit Eliyahu (House of Elijah) congregation the following day was attended by members of Israel’s Knesset and covered by national television. For days after, Israel was talking about the broadcast.
What made Abigail’s funeral different from all other funerals was that her parents expressed no bitterness toward those responsible for their daughter’s murder. Secondly, people all over Israel became aware that there were Jews who believed Jesus is the Messiah. And — perhaps most astonishing of all — the Haifa congregation’s leader was an Arab!
In the providence of God, the nation suddenly became aware of the existence of Messianic Jews in their midst and, since then, the Israeli media has drawn the attention of the Israeli public to the faith and lifestyle of Jewish believers in the land.
From 3-16 October, Shmuel Aweida, the pastor of Beit Eliyahu congregation, will be speaking at venues around the UK, including London, Manchester, Cardiff, Belfast, Leeds, Harrogate, Dundee and Glasgow.
He will share what it is like to live as a non-Jew in a Jewish state, his role as the Arab pastor of a Jewish congregation, the impact of the funeral of Abigail Litle on Israeli society, and how, in his role as the Arab pastor of a Jewish congregation, he has seen the good news of Jesus bring reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians.
‘Land of Hope and Glory’ is an event for all, whatever their views on the politics of Israel. The event will inform, uplift, challenge and bless.
On Monday 7 October, Shmuel will address a public meeting at Friends Meeting House in London. Admission to all meetings is free and further information about the tour, including dates and venues, is available on the web site of Christian Witness to Israel (www.cwi.org.uk), or by calling 01959 565955.