Neo-Pentecostal Church in Palestinian Refugee Camp Attacked

ASSIST takes us to Jericho:

A building housing an Evangelical Christian ministry in Jericho was recently torched by Arab neighbors, apparently Muslims angered over the group’s religious activities in the ancient biblical city.

The Living Bread Church, located in a Palestinian refugee camp on the edge of town, was deliberately set on fire in early June by neighbors opposed to the ministry…The fire marked the third time the building has been set ablaze in the past three years. Dunham arrived in Jericho three years ago to start a local church and has seen dozens of Muslims convert to Christianity despite the threats.

Converts to Christianity tend to have a bit of a rough time of it on both sides of the Green Line in Israel/Palestine: I’ve previously noted the persecution of Messianic (i.e. Christian) Jews in various towns within Israel proper. However, the ascendancy of Hamas within the Palestinian Authority has proven particularly alarming for certain Christian groups working in the West Bank and Gaza: the YMCA, which strongly supports Palestinian rights, was recently forced to withdraw from the town of Qalqiliya following Islamist threats and a bookshop belonging to the Palestinian Bible Society was forced to close for several weeks.

The Living Bread International Church appears to be neo-Pentecostal, and claims to be converting Palestinian Muslims to Christianity through supernatural demonstrations. The church’s website annotates some photos thus:

The boy in green had his eyes healed by the Lord in prayer. The father of ten had his incurable eye disease healed immediately by the Lord, after he personally questioned the power of Jesus Christ.

The church is run by Karen Dunham, formerly of Florida. She is described on one religious website as

…a single mum doing a work in the Palestine refugee camps in Jericho and she is the only work there feeding the poor and clothing them, she has gain such respect that she has full support of the Israeli army whom give her aid to pass to the people. She has full access to the senior military personnel and can phone them by cell phone anytime she needs assistance and has any problems at check points.

…She also has a powerful gift to preach. Karen was called up by the Israeli army and has been offered the opportunity to take some believers to the point of the crossing of the Jordan; the actual place where Jesus was baptized and the prophet parted the waters, this is in a military controlled zone and is not open to tourists…

One would think that such apparent closeness with an occupying army might annoy the Palestinian locals; however, another site claims that

Her training and ministry has been so successful that she is loved by both the Israeli army and Arabs [many US evangelical sites cannot bring themselves to use the word “Palestinians” – RB]. She has been asked to work in all 25 camps because of her great success, and she has already made a great impact in the area of people resisting terrorism where she works.

Dunham is not the only neo-Pentecostal missionary working in Jericho. The Jesus Vision, a site that claims that Muslims are converting to Christianity following visions of Jesus (make of it what you will), has the

One of the significant works of God in the Middle East is that of Pastor Terry MacIntosh and his volunteers at the Jesus House of Prayer in Jericho. The spiritual events that continually occur through this bold prayer center resemble another chapter from the Book of Acts.

…Even though Hamas terrorists opposed us over loudspeakers, the Palestinian police restrained them and protected our team with their armed presence. One hundred and forty-four seekers received copies of the “Jesus” film after the event.

The Jesus House of Prayer also helped us to conduct one of our evangelistic outreaches in a large Bedouin tent in the Jericho City of Palms. Pastor Terry also organized a March for Jesus in Jericho—truly a “first”!– with a Jesus parade and Biblical banners.