Christian Life 

Baptist church under seige in Bethlehem

In the wake of Bethlemen Bible College's international gathering of Replacement Theology evangelical leaders, the First Baptist Church in the birthplace of Christ is refused registration renewal by the Palestinian Authority.


 Bethlehem Baptist Church
Bethlehem Baptist ChurchTwo weeks after a pro-Palestinian gathering of evangelicals was held in Jesus' birthplace, the First Baptist Church of Bethlehem has had the Palestinian Authority (PA) refuse the church's re-registration application.

The Christ at the Checkpoint conference hosted by Bethlehem Bible College attracted evangelical speakers from around the world who hold to the Replacement Theology view that the Jewish nation has no place in God's present or future prophetic purposes.
The conference – attended by over 600 – "challenged the evangelical community to cease looking at the Middle East through the lens of end times prophecy".

Though laudably calling for peace, justice and reconciliation, the underlying motives – as expressed by the conference title – are based on what has become known as Christian Palestinianism; a one-sided stance which lays the bulk of the blame on Israel for the conflict in the land and the troubles between Jews and Arabs.

It is not therefore of great surprise that, in the wake of the conference, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is now refusing to renew the official registration papers of the First Baptist Church of Bethlehem – apparently due in part to its reluctance to join other Palestinian institutions in (one-sidedly) criticizing Israel.

The denial has come the week after PA prime minister Salaam Fayyad – who appeared at the conference – assured the delegates that the Palestinian Authority welcomes all Christians and does not discriminate against them.

Yet both Bethlehem and Nazareth, which had been essentially Christian communities, now have strong Muslim majorities which are driving believers out of these townships, with three quarters of all Bethlehem Christians now living abroad. Some observers have said that within a generation Bethlehem could become a 'city of Christian holy sites but with no Christian residents'.

The Bethlehem Baptist Church has been fire-bombed 14 times and two young Christian women have been shot and killed for inviting young children to a holiday Bible school.
However in spite of the history of persecution and the most-recent licence refusal,  the Bethlehem Baptist church has not been shut down, as some reports have claimed; and church members are still holding their regular weekly prayer and worship services.
Nevertheless, the denial of a renewed registration could have serious repercussions for the evangelical congregation in future.

Senior Pastor Naim Khoury, who has himself been shot at several times and receives continual death threats, had applied recently for a periodic renewal of the church's official registration, but was informed that it had been denied. Such renewals are normally routine, and no official reasons were given for the denial. If left to stand, the result could mean the church cannot register births, marriages and deaths of its congregants.

This could prove problematic as the PA requires that residents indicate affiliation with a certain religion on identification papers and other civil documents. No other Evangelical churches or institutions are encountering such problems at present, and thus the suspicion is falling on the way First Baptist Church of Bethlehem has stood for peaceful relations between Israelis and Palestinians over the years, but while also teaching from the OT prophets and disagreeing with the Replacement Theology position.

Footnote: See article 'The enemy is within the church'

Christians Together, 19/03/2012

Rev Donald N Martin (Guest) 21/03/2012 21:44
I have personally met Naim Khoury first in 1997 and again in 2008, when he came to speak to the tour group I was leading. He is a humble man and a man who loved the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is any church who needs our support and prayer it is the Bethlehem Baptist Church. I hope and pray that he will be able to meet with us when we make a return visit later this year.
Charles Cottam (Guest) 01/04/2012 21:39
Distressing but interesting.Christians with the same views are being persecuted in Israel too. Anyone wanting to hear of this first hand might want to get to St Silas church Glasgow on 14th June where Pastor Figuerrez of the Arad fellowship will be speaking. he has endured years of personal attacks from Orthodox jews too.Whilst in Israel recently I caughht a news article about messainic jews being" outed" by their Orthodox neighbours. These people "named and shamed" the christian jews.And yet I am sure that with so many ordinary jews becoming fed up with the orthodox's antics this persecution will have added greatly to the messainics numbers.We should pray for the Bethlehem baptist church expoecting their numbers to grow.
Editor 02/04/2012 13:05
Thank you Charles for that information.

What the above report illustrates is that the attack on the outworking of God's prophetic word and those believers who align themselves with it, is coming from -

Islamists, Orthodox Jews, Establishment Churches (e.g. the Orthodox Church), secular humanism, evangelical churchmen and Arab believers who have bought into 'Christian Palestinianism', extreme right-wing and extreme left-wing political activists, the UN, the Arab league: the list goes on and on.

But should we be surprised? God has warned us in advance; and the closer we get to Christ's return the greater these hostilities will become.
Peter MacE (Guest) 24/12/2012 20:11
Jesus was born a Jew; Jesus is King of the Jews. As such Jesus would be in as much danger in today's Arab-dominated Bethlehem as he was when he was born. (Guest) 27/02/2013 07:03
Eileen (Guest) 11/04/2014 20:06
"Pastor Figuerrez of the Arad fellowship will be speaking. he has endured years of personal attacks from Orthodox jews too"

There is a big difference between Pastor Figuerrez experiences and Pastor Naim Khoury being shot 3 times and his church attacked 14 times is deadly persecution.

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