TheBlaze has been one of the few news outlets covering the burning down of churches and persecution of Christians in Egypt. And now it looks like some of that violence has spilled into East Jerusalem. On radio this morning, Glenn shared the story of Pastor Khoury of the Calvary Baptist Church in East Jerusalem. Glenn got to know Pastor Khoury and his family during his time in Israel for Restoring Courage.
“Do you remember Pastor Khoury,” Glenn asked Pat. “He was a Palestinian Christian. He was a Muslim, who wanted to check out the Christian church. And he would walk through the killing zone, climb over fences, and he would try to get from the Palestinian quarter to the Christian quarter to be able to go to church. And he was almost killed every Sunday. And he would go to church. I’ll never forget meeting this guy. Such a remarkable hero.”
This morning, Glenn got some troubling news about his friend and his ministry. Sunday afternoon, Pastor Khoury’s church in East Jerusalem was attacked. Glenn only spent a little bit of time in Israel, but he quickly learned that Christians are not welcomed with open arms in East Jerusalem.
“We were in East Jerusalem and they were giving a cocktail hour with me, and these people wanted to thank me for support of Israel,” Glenn explained. “They lived on this floor. It was probably, what, ten floors up, six floors up, something like that? And the people found out. The Palestinians in the area found out that we were up there and they literally went crazy. They were throwing chairs at the building, trying to throw anything they could up at us at the building. So that’s where this guy is. I mean, this is a place where, if you are a Christian or a Jew and you call the police, they are not coming. They are just not coming… So he has his church in that neighborhood.”
In the wake of Restoring Courage, Pastor Khoury and his family came under increased scrutiny for their involvement in the event. “Early Monday morning in Jerusalem, [Pastor Khoury] got word that his church in East Jerusalem, one of the fastest growing churches in Jerusalem, was attacked on Sunday afternoon,” Glenn said. “They burned the entrance and the trees and the playground area. Meanwhile, all of the residents, none of them said anything. Nobody did anything. They couldn’t call the police because that would have only made it worse. And the Israeli firefighters had to come in and put it out. The landlord is a moderate Muslim and he’s being pressured and threatened by the community not to house this church. The future of their church is at risk because they are threatened to the point where the congregation can no longer meet. They will be homeless in the next 30 to 60 days because no one is willing to rent to the Christians.”
Technically, the church is under Palestinian jurisdiction, and the Palestinian fire department should have been responsible for putting out the fire, but they stood by and watched as Israeli relief rushed in to help.
“Again, the back story on Pastor Khoury: Palestinian Christian 15 years ago, he was beaten up with metal chains and sticks by the families of young men he was trying to mentor as a Christian,” Glenn said. “It’s horrifying what is going on and no one really wants to talk about it. What they do want to talk about, at least the people in power, is how great and how much you can trust Al Jazeera because they’re going to give you the ‘real story.’”
Yesterday, Al Jazeera America launched in 48 million homes with an extremely over-produced video heralding its work as a global news network and highlighting some of the favorable comments it has received over the years from American figureheads like Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
Given its checkered past, it is hard to imagine Al Jazeera America will provide the straight and narrow it touts on stories dealing with Christian persecution in the Middle East. “You think they’re going to say anything,” Glenn asked. “No. Their Egyptian newsroom walked because Qatar told them ‘Slant your news towards the Muslim Brotherhood.’”
“Let’s see if [the Al Jazeera America workers] do the same thing when told to do the same thing,” Pat challenged.
“Yeah,” Glenn sad. “Let’s see if they do it.”