Ministry in the Israel-Hamas War

Jesus gives hope to Israeli and Palestinian Christians

Ministry in the Israel-Hamas War

Jesus gives hope to Israeli and Palestinian Christians

As a pastor and church planter serving in Bethlehem, two questions weigh heavily on my mind and on the hearts of hundreds of believers on both sides of the Israeli-West Bank wall: When will the war that began Oct. 7 end? And with its end, will a new major conflict await Israeli society?

Let me share some of the daily experiences and struggles that have haunted people here for eight months.

Imagine this: Arabs on the Palestinian side, Arabs on the Israeli side, and Israeli Jews, all residing in a country roughly the size of New Jersey, facing deep political and religious divides.

Christians in the land woke up on Oct. 7 to horrifying news and images: an open attack on the southern border between Israel and Gaza. They were consumed by a whirlwind of anxieties, not only for the unfolding events but also for the inevitable consequences many of us foresaw.

Christian Palestinians who worked on the Israeli side, alongside Jewish colleagues, knew they would face a mountain of pressures: border closures, long security lines, heightened tensions with co-workers and superiors, and the constant fear of being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time during a political demonstration or a terror attack.

Many Palestinians, especially Christians, prefer to work on the Israeli side due to better wages and benefits. However, those with Palestinian West Bank IDs require special permits to cross into Israel. A closed border checkpoint means no work and no pay. This has been the reality for 90% of West Bank residents since October.

Christians, already a minority, face additional challenges. The dwindling Christian community and shrinking presence of Christian organizations in the West Bank leave many feeling utterly alone and forgotten, especially those in Bethlehem, which used to have a sizable Christian population.

According to our ministry leaders who have served and helped daily at Holy Land Missions, real hope begins to take root when we remind Christians of God’s promises in Scripture—His saving grace and provision. We assure them they are not alone or forgotten. But words alone are not enough—we must come alongside them and demonstrate tangible love in action.

Many concerned believers ask about the Israeli Messianic community: How are they coping? How has their relationship with Arab believers changed since Oct. 7? Here are some of the struggles and relationships the Messianic community is dealing with: 

Shattered Trust, New Beginnings

The previously untouchable perception of Israel’s military was challenged by the border infiltration. This sensitive spot exposed Israel’s vulnerability to attacks from multiple sides. It also shattered the trust both Messianic and secular Jews had in building bridges with the Arab community.

However, those who hope in Christ are already searching for ways to rebuild trust and create new bridge-building initiatives. It will undoubtedly take time.

The Messianic community, being ethnically Jewish, faces the struggle of balancing ethnicity with religion. In a politically divided land, they must navigate anger, frustration, disparity and questions from others. Ultimately, through the Holy Spirit, they find clarity in knowing the Messiah, Jesus.

This Bible-centered belief emphasizes Jesus as the only true hope for peace and salvation. Messianic Jewish leaders have told me about the emotional battle in trying to tell nonbelieving Jewish friends that not all Arabs are the same—that there are those who are different and have been transformed by a Jewish Messiah. 

The most difficult challenge is for those Messianic believers who risk being ostracized if they tell their friends and family that they are followers of the one true Messiah—Jesus—and that these Arabs they are talking about have followed that same Messiah, who has transformed their hearts and minds as well. It is a fine line to walk.

The Messianic community has also suffered economically. We have provided food and other necessities to families and congregations, reminding them that Jesus remains the only hope for bridging the divide and transforming Arabs from enemies to brothers and sisters.

Reasons for Hope

It’s important to remember some key points:

  • First, many trusted sources estimate that the majority of Gazans privately express a desire for Hamas’ removal from power. 
  • Second, the believing community in the Holy Land has a history of overcoming fear, obstacles and persecution. We find joy in Christ’s promises—even amid hardship.
  • Third, about 3,000 Gazans infiltrated the border, not the entire population. This suggests, thankfully, that not everyone condoned the attack and that there is hope. 

Ministries like ours are not merely surviving; we are growing and overcoming. We are making waves in building the Kingdom, not through our own efforts but through God’s grace, wisdom, boldness and the unwavering hope we have in Him. ©2024 Steven Khoury

Steven Khoury ministers in Bethlehem and other locations across Israel and the Palestinian Territories. For more information about his ministry, go to

Above: Christian volunteers with Steven Khoury’s ministry, Holy Land Missions, prepare for a food distribution in Jerusalem.

Photo: Courtesy of Steven Khoury

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