"Without ignoring the suffering and injustice in so many parts of our region, we should focus on the call of Jesus to expand God's sovereignty by making disciples, recognizing the crucial role Jewish Believers in Israel have in the Great Commission to bless their neighbors with the Good News."
(Jerusalem, Israel)—Muslim background followers of Jesus from various Middle Eastern countries met with their Messianic Jewish and Christian counterparts at a recent conference.
According to a news release received by ASSIST News Service, the gathering took place May 7-12 in the Old City of Jerusalem at Christ Church, the oldest Protestant Church in the Middle East.
Although similar conferences have been held over the years in the Middle East, this is the first time such a gathering has been held in Israel.
According to the news release, attendees "At the Crossroads" gathered in the context of Isaiah's vision of a highway that will run from Egypt and Israel to Assyria—a model of worship and partnership for Christians across the region that will lead to the Middle East becoming a "blessing on the earth."
More than 70 delegates came from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, Palestinian Authority, Cyprus, Armenia, Turkey, Europe and North America.
The news release said worshiping and praying together in Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, Hebrew, and hearing testimonies about the blessings and challenges of following Jesus in the region were among the highlights of the conference.
Due to security concerns the conference was a closed, invitation only gathering. However, two sessions were open to local guests. They featured speakers Rev. Andrew White, the "Vicar of Baghdad," and Pastor Ali Pektash, a Muslim who came to faith in Jesus through a dream while on pilgrimage to Mecca.
Messianic Jewish and Palestinian leaders, including Taysir Abu Saada, author of "Once an Arafat Man," also addressed the delegates.
The news release said they spoke about God's power not only to reconcile enemies but also to enable them to take risks by crossing ethnic, political and religious divides to work together. Speakers said that would enable an expansion of God's Kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in a troubled and unstable region.
According to the news release an organizer said, "It is all too easy for Christians in the Middle East to become ghettoized due to their minority status and the many ethnic and political divisions. Consequently, we often fail to see how God is working in our midst. Our focus must extend beyond these conflicts and only the survival of existing Christian communities."
The organizer continued, "Without ignoring the suffering and injustice in so many parts of our region, we should focus on the call of Jesus to expand God's sovereignty by making disciples, recognizing the crucial role Jewish Believers in Israel have in the Great Commission to bless their neighbors with the Good News. And equally so, the followers of Jesus in the surrounding nations have a unique role in helping Israel become part of the blessing that God intends for this region."
Another resolution pledged "to commit to work and pray for the blessing and salvation of all the peoples of the Middle East."
According to the news release the conference was made possible by contributions of Christians worldwide, and support from the Israel Trust of the Anglican Church.