Palestinian Bible Society Reopens, Open Doors Relieved

The Palestinian Bible society reopened its book shop before the week leading to Easter, while Open Doors says it is relieved.
( [email protected] ) Apr 11, 2006 01:41 PM EDT

The Palestinian Bible society reopened its book shop before the week leading to Easter, while Open Doors says it is relieved.

The world’s oldest Christian persecution monitor group of 50 years reported in a press release that the event was an answer to their prayers.

"A lot of people were praying not just in USA but all over the world," Jerry Dykstra, Open Doors media coordinator, said Tuesday. "It is such an important ministry for the marginalized Christians there."

The bookstore had closed after receiving many death threats including one to kill the landlord and other tenants should the Bible Society fail to leave on Feb. 28. On Feb. 3, militants detonated two smaller pipe bombs in front of the bookshop, shattering its steel and glass doors. The militants also warned the Bible Society to not reopen in another location.

The Bible Society initially contacted Palestinian authorities whom afterwards claimed to have captured the perpetrators in late March.

"It wasn’t true, so the threat is still on; we do not know who is behind it," wrote Hanna Massad, pastor at the Gaza Baptist Church, who indicated that the police reports were more likely to have been falsified.

In defiance to threats, the Palestinian Bible Society reopened its store last Monday. Nonetheless, Hanna asked for more prayers in his email to his peers.

"The situation in Gaza is still very dangerous, and the threat is still on," Hanna wrote. "The evil one tried everything he could to stop us from doing what God called us to do."

In the days leading to Easter, violence in the biblical Holy Land remains a concern, especially for Palestinian Christians whom have borne the brunt of the sectarian violence that has killed thousands since 2002.

"I think we as Christians have to realize that this Sunday there will be many Christians who can’t worship freely...and have to worship undergound," said Open Door’s Jerry Dykstra. In the case of Gaza, they have to worship knowing their church could be bombed anytime.

Just days ago, the Israeli Army said that it would allow 34,000 Palestinian Christians residing in the West Bank to enter Jerusalem for the upcoming Easter celebrations. In addition, about 500 Christian Palestinians will be allowed passage to the West Bank from Gaza, while a similar number will be authorized to do the same from the opposite direction.

Of 1.3 million people living in the Gaza Strip, only 2,000 identify themselves as Christians, while in the West Bank, Palestinian Christians make up less than one per cent of the population there.