In the early 1990’s the Christian bookstore my wife and I owned, Mission Possible Bookstore, was visited almost daily by vendor reps. These reps were from publishers, gift suppliers, choir robe manufacturers, etc. One day a very friendly fellow came in with crosses and crèche made of olive wood from Palestine. I really didn’t know Palestine was then called Israel. But it was a bible sounding name. I also was suspicious as to how this fellow could be a Christian–he didn’t look like one (isn’t that a sad commentary). We shared back and forth and I found he lived in a village outside Jerusalem. He told me stories about wedding parades winding from village to village. And about the simple life of the ethnic Arab Christian communities engaged in olive oil production and making of Christian gift items hand crafted from olive wood. I bought a selection of his offerings and they sold well. I still have a small olive wood cross on a blue cord.
Well here we are over 30 years later and until today I had completely forgotten about that Palestinian merchant. I also was amazed at what I have learned in the meantime of the Israel-Palestinian controversy. I have even visited Israel. But it wasn’t until I saw a headline in my digital issue of the “Jewish Press” that I was caused to reflect back all those years.
When Janelle and I spent six weeks in Israel in 2008, most of that time interning with Messianic Jewish believers, the Arab/Palestine conundrum never came up. I really never met or considered there were Arab Christians in Israel. Then today I saw the headline about “increasingly vocal Israeli Christians.” At first I was excited–the Messianics in Israel were making a noise. Then as I read the article I finally puzzled out the story was about Arab Christians. That’s when my mind filtered back all those years. Now, a new prayer agenda, these Arab Christians need support. It seems to me the Messianic community in Israel should reach out to them and support and encourage them. They at least now have a recognition and voice, maybe the other grafted-in Hebrew and Gentile believers in Yeshua are on the verge of official recognition!
The link to the article is below: