Palestinian Church Forced Out of East Jerusalem

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

JERUSALEM (Worthy News)-- Years of harassment by militant Muslims have forced a Palestinian church in East Jerusalem to leave their own building, according to Morning Star News.

The 110-member congregation of Calvary Baptist Church had moved out of the Shofat area of Jerusalem in July after Muslims threatened their landlord.

"It was very emotional because a lot of our people really started to grow there," said Pastor Steven Khoury. "Most of the growth happened in Shofat because of the persecution."

The persecution began immediately after the congregation moved into the predominantly Muslim area in 2007, but when the municipality posted a road sign with the name and location of his church, the harassment escalated, said Khoury.

For now, Shofat church rents a hall for a few hours twice a week; the congregation wanted to buy a multi-story building, but its cost was prohibitive because real estate in Jerusalem is at a premium, Khoury said.

"Because Jerusalem is the most sought-after city in the world by the three major religions in the world and land is so scarce, Jerusalem is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. We can't get a loan because we don't own anything in Israel. By faith we are asking the Lord to help us raise $3.5 million. We've been able to raise about $700,000 so far."

Khoury said that despite these challenges his congregation is determined to stay in Jerusalem and do what God has called them to.

"I believe in being persistent and I believe in holding your ground and standing strong. I believe in the message so strongly I am willing to risk my life. Our members are willing to risk their lives by continuously coming to the same location. I believe still that people will see that we are committed just like they are in their religion, and we are willing to die for our faith just as they are as well."