Jerusalem church continues bold stand despite arson attack

Friday, August 30, 2013 |  Ryan Jones

Pastor Steven Khoury of Calvary Church is determined to continue taking a bold stand for the Gospel despite sometimes violent opposition, including a recent arson attack against the church's building in the eastern Jerusalem Arab suburb of Shuafat.

Khoury had just returned from one of his many speaking engagements abroad when church elders urgently notified him of the attack.

"Pastor, we finished our youth revival meeting. Sunday evening a big fire was intentionally started attacking the front and sides of Calvary Church building," an elder frantically explained over the phone. "The fire department in Jerusalem brought two large fire trucks which caught the fire in time before burning up our church building, playground and our church vehicle."

What's worse, none of the church's neighbors bothered to notify Khoury or his staff about the fire, another indication that his actively evangelistic ministry is unwelcome in the area.

It's not that many of the church's neighbors didn't care, but, as the elder explained, "because of our standing firm in being a lighthouse and teaching Jesus many will not say anything of fear of physical attacks on them, there children or property."

Shuafat has long been a flash point of conflict, and Israeli rescue forces and police typically avoid the neighborhood for fear of sparking a violent response.

This is where Khoury and his team are working to share the love of Yeshua. And their troubles did not begin with the arson attack.

The church continues to operate out of temporary facilities, and landlords are becoming increasingly hesitant to rent to these Christians. In fact, Calvary Church was recently notified that at any time it could be told to vacate its current premises.

The church is now seeking the funds to purchase its own building. A suitable building has already been located, and, as Khoury explained, "This opportunity is a miracle as the Lord lead us to the ONLY Muslim willing to sell to us. By selling to us he is actually risking much, the only way we can explain his willingness to sell is that the Holy Spirit is leading him."

While the new building would prevent the church from ever being evicted, it could become even more of a target for attack. In fact, Khoury has every intention of letting his light shine even brighter. "What an opportunity to be a lighthouse in between two of the largest Arab Muslim towns outside of East Jerusalem," he told Israel Today. "Calvary is already providing people in the community with the rare opportunity to hear and learn about Jesus."

While the church's current circumstances would deter most, Pastor Khoury remains resolute. "We will continue enduring because we believe what we are doing is reviving the church in the city where it all began."

To learn more about Calvary Church and its building fund, visit: www.holylandmissions.org

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