Major outreach challenges:
- The ultra-Orthodox Haredi are only 10% of the population, but they have strong political influence. They are like modern Pharisees, who strictly observe and preserve their religious laws and identity. Pray for many more to become like Nicodemus (John, chapters 3, 7, and 19).
- The Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel) arrived as immigrants over a decade ago. Now they are largely a poor, urban underclass. Fewer than 2,000 (out of 120,000) are Messianic believers.
- The Arabs are over 90% Muslim. But Arabs also make up the majority of Christians in the Holy Land. They face pressure from all sides, as Israelis discriminate against them, Islamists persecute them, and the international community largely overlooks their situation.
- The Druze community are closed to outsiders, but a small movement to Jesus has begun among them.
- The 8 million Jews outside Israel live mostly in the USA, the former USSR, and other Western nations. Perhaps 100,000 now have links with Messianic congregations, and a much larger number attend other Christian churches. Pray for Gentile churches to have greater sensitivity to the Jewish remnant within the global Church.
Israeli-Arab conflict in the Holy Land moved to a new level over a century ago, intensifying since 1948. Resolution is elusive due to competing claims and agendas. Both sides lay claim to the land, and all human efforts to resolve this conflict have failed. Pray that both sides will find true reconciliation and genuine Shalom through Jesus the Messiah.
The Christian Church in Israel is fragmented, although soundings of unity are beginning. It is comprised of about 80% Arabs, 12% expatriates (Egyptian, Ethiopian, Greek, Russian, Armenian, Italian, others) and 8% Jews. There are Catholics (five rites), Orthodox (nine traditions) and Protestants/Independents (over 20 denominations, many individual congregations and over 100 mission agencies). Pray for spiritual unity that transcends history, ethnic conflict, national origins, eschatology and secondary areas of theology.
Unity between Messianic Jews and Arab Christians. A quiet revolution in relationships between Jewish and Arab believers is beginning in the Holy Land. The recently formed Convention of Evangelical Churches in Israel (and an equivalent organization in the Palestinian Authority) is a major step forward. Jewish and Arab believers cooperate in ministry through the National Evangelism Committee. Their joint outreach efforts into Muslim areas are well received. Many other grassroots initiatives, often unreported, see these two groups of believers, from very different backgrounds, blazing a trail of reconciliation and friendship that is an example to the rest of the region. But some others question or are even opposed to such developments. Pray that there might be grace among all who call upon Jesus/Yeshua/Isa to love, support and bear with one another.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.