Category Archives: EMEU

Len Rogers on Vindication

Dear Stephen,

I await your vindication. You are a messenger just like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela. Unlike them you may find that in this life you will not be accepted except by a few but in years to come the world will realize you were a champion of justice and human rights. Do what is right in God’s eyes. May the Holy Spirit give you strength. Keep your roots and values in God’s word in a loving relationship with Jesus. You are always in my thoughts and prayers.

Your friend and brother in Christ,

Len Rodgers

Director Emeritus of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding
Founder/President-Emeritus Venture International
Founder of World Vision Middle East

And a few other friends

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“We are in the Middle of a World War” says Vicar of Beirut

“We are in the middle of a world war. I tell everyone to read Colin Chapman and Stephen Sizer”.

“He thanked Stephen for his courageous and important work in the Middle East and for his encouragement to his own church in Beirut.”

Revd Nabil Shehadi, RIBA, MA
Vicar, All Saints’ International Congregation
Alpha Adviser for Lebanon/Alpha publishing
Archbishop of Canterbury’s personal representative
to the Oriental Orthodox Church


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With God on our Side Q&A at Taylor University

Taylor University, Indiana hosted a showing of the film With God on our Side. This video made by the university is of the lively Q&A that followed. Taylor is a liberal arts Christian college near Indianapolis and is ranked number one in ‘America’s Best Colleges – Midwest.

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Steve Tollestrup Defends TEAR Fund NZ’s work in Palestine

Steve Tollestrup is the CEO of TEAR Fund New Zealand. In this interview he challenges Zionist allegations of anti-semitism and robustly defends TEAR Fund’s commitment to supporting justice, peace and reconciliation in Israel-Palestine.

“I am thrilled that TEAR Fund NZ is serving as host for the very important visit of Rev’d Dr. Stephen Sizer. Stephen is clearly aware of the hurdles to Middle East reconciliation and serves as a tireless spokesman for peace in the Middle East and one that is shared by the Israelis and Palestinians that live there. Stephen has my utmost support and admiration.”

Steve Haas
Vice President, Chief Catalyst, World Vision US

See also:

See more photos of TEAR Fund NZ here

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Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 Statement and Manifesto

A major breakthrough in the evangelical world took place in Bethlehem through a gathering of over 600 international and local Christians, including renowned evangelical leaders. Organized by Bethlehem Bible College, the conference, under the banner “Christ at the Checkpoint,” addressed the issue of how to find hope in the midst of conflict. The conference exceeded all expectations.

For the first time, a broad spectrum of evangelical believers met literally at the “checkpoint,” and engaged biblically on issues that have historically divided them. Subjects included, Christian Zionism, Islamism, justice, nonviolence, and reconciliation. These themes were intended to create an ongoing forum for Christian peacemaking within the context of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. These issues were discussed in the form of inspirational messages, Bible study, interactive workshops, panels and site visits.

Defying the temptation to despair, Palestinian Christians demonstrated renewed hope to continue to stand against the injustice of occupation nonviolently and forms of Christian Zionism that marginalize them. They also acknowledged the right of the State of Israel to exist within secure borders.

Speakers included John Ortberg, Bishara Awad, Chris Wright, Doug Birdsall, David Kim, Tony Campolo, Lynne Hybels, Munther Isaac, Shane Claiborne, Joel Hunter, Ron Sider, Salim Munayer and Colin Chapman. Participants from 20 nations and a sizeable delegation of university students including Wheaton College and Eastern University, were moved by the testimony of Palestinian men and women who shared the pain and suffering they experience on a daily basis caused primarily by the continuing occupation.

A unique aspect of the conference was the presence and presentations by members of the Messianic community including Richard Harvey, Evan Thomas and Wayne Hilsden, who provided an integral contribution to the dialogue.

Conference organizers challenged the evangelical community to cease looking at the Middle East through the lens of “end times” prophecy and instead rallied them to join in following Jesus in the prophetic pursuance of justice, peace and reconciliation.

Conference Organizers:

John Angle, Alex Awad, Bishara Awad, Sami Awad, Steve Haas, Munther Isaac, Yohanna Katanacho, Manfred Kohl, Salim Munayer, Jack Sara, Stephen Sizer

The Christ at the Checkpoint Manifesto

1. The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.

2. Reconciliation recognizes God’s image in one another.

3. Racial ethnicity alone does not guarantee the benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant.

4. The Church in the land of the Holy One, has born witness to Christ since the days of Pentecost. It must be empowered to continue to be light and salt in the region, if there is to be hope in the midst of conflict.

5. Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture.

6. All forms of violence must be refuted unequivocally.

7. Palestinian Christians must not lose the capacity to self-criticism if they wish to remain prophetic.

8. There are real injustices taking place in the Palestinian territories and the suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored. Any solution must respect the equity and rights of Israel and Palestinian communities.

9. For Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict.

10. Any challenge of the injustices taking place in the Holy Land must be done in Christian love. Criticism of Israel and the occupation cannot be confused with anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel.

11. Respectful dialogue between Palestinian and Messianic believers must continue. Though we may disagree on secondary matters of theology, the Gospel of Jesus and his ethical teaching take precedence.

12. Christians must understand the global context for the rise of extremist Islam. We challenge stereotyping of all faith forms that betray God’s commandment to love our neighbors and enemies.

The Statement and Manifesto were presented to the conference participants on the last day but were only agreed on and endorsed by the Conference Organizers.

Conference Organizers:

John Angle, Alex Awad, Bishara Awad, Sami Awad, Steve Haas, Munther Isaac, Yohanna Katanacho, Manfred Kohl, Salim Munayer, Jack Sara, Stephen Sizer

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Christ at the Checkpoint: Seven Affirmations

The international Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 Conference begins tomorrow. There is a growing sense of expectation that God will use this unique global fellowship for his purposes to further his kingdom as well as to bring justice, peace and reconciliation in Israel-Palestine. The following affirmations reflect the views and hopes of the conference organizers.

Affirmation #1: Israelis and Palestinians
We affirm that all people are created in the image of God. In turn we are called to honor the dignity of every human being and to respect their inalienable rights. We affirm that Jews and Palestinians are loved by God and capable of living together within peace, justice and security. This is God’s view toward all of humanity, residing in any political boundary and manifested through the mission of Jesus in bringing to everyone, “life to the full” (John 10:10).

Affirmation #2: Theology and Land
The New Testament clearly teaches that God continues to invite Jews and Arabs into His kingdom and in no way is finished with any people group. Further, Scripture speaks of Jesus as its ultimate fulfillment. For example, the need for animal sacrifices, Levitical priesthood, and expectation of a rebuilt Temple, find their ultimate fulfillment and completion in Jesus Christ.

Affirmation #3: The Palestinian-Israeli conflict
As followers of Jesus Christ we regret more than 60 years of conflict. We look forward to the time when the conflict will end and both peoples will enjoy genuine reconciliation. We commit ourselves to be peacemakers and to this ministry of reconciliation. As such we stand resolutely against all forms of violence and racism, regardless of the perpetrators.

Affirmation #4: The Second Coming of Christ
There are several views which Christ followers hold to explain the future. Rather than focus on the signs of the return of Christ, our reading of the New Testament indicates that our primary mandate is to proclaim the “Good News” to the entire world.

Affirmation #5: Zionism
Modern Zionism is a political movement created to meet the aspirations of Jews around the world who longed for a homeland. It has become ethnocentric, privileging one people at the expense of others. Christianity calls believers in Jesus to focus on building God’s kingdom on earth.

Affirmation #6: Messianic Jews
Messianic Jews are the brothers and sisters of all who follow Jesus or Yeshua. We are one family bound together in a fellowship of love. Although diversity in political opinions as well as theological emphasis inevitably exist, we refuse to allow these views to hinder our fellowship in Jesus.

Affirmation #7: Palestinian and Israeli Authority
The Bible teaches us to pray for all in political authority. We are called to obey them, whether they are Israeli or Palestinian, as an expression of our faith in God’s sovereign rule. We are also called to be a prophetic voice, challenging injustice creatively and non-violently.

We trust these seven affirmations help clarify the views of the conference organizers and will encourage you to participate in the Christ at the Checkpoint conference 2012.

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Middle East Christians in the Light of the Arab Spring

Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding Conference DVDs now available.
“Middle East Christians in light of the Arab Spring” Order here

The set includes my paper Seven Biblical Answers to Popular Zionist Assumptions

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Jerusalem: The City of God in Biblical Tradition

Jerusalem is the crucible of three world faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. However, Zionists deny history and the will of entire international community when they insist “Jerusalem is the undivided, eternal and exclusive capital of the Jewish people.”

The annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967 and the aggressive strategy of Palestinian house demolitions, illegal Jews-only settlements and the construction of the apartheid Separation Barrier have all created ‘facts on the ground’.  When challenged, Jewish Zionists and their Christian supporters claim a higher mandate than the United Nations for their exclusive claim to Jerusalem – the Word of God.

This paper will refute this view and demonstrate from the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures that Jerusalem was always intended to be an inclusive city of peace for all who acknowledge the One true God. Practical steps will be offered for ways in which people of faith can work together to resolve the present conflict.

1.  Jerusalem in the Hebrew Scriptures: A Shared City
The story of Jerusalem goes way back to the Book of Genesis. It is possible that Jerusalem was the home of the Melchizedek the priest and king who blessed Abraham in Genesis 14.  He is referred to as the ‘king of Salem’ which later became identified with Jerusalem. Mount Moriah, where Abraham offered his son as a sacrifice, is also identified in 2 Chronicles 3 as the same place where king Solomon built his Temple. While the right of residence in Jerusalem was always conditional of faithful obedience, God’s intention has always been that Jerusalem be shared. In Psalm 87 we have a beautiful picture of an international and inclusive city where residency rights are determined by God on the basis of faith not race.


“Glorious things are said of you, city of God:  “I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me— Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush — and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’ “Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High himself will establish her.” The LORD will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” (Psalm 87:3-6)

It is a universal norm that where we are born determines our nationality and citizenship. The same applies in God’s kingdom. Spiritual new birth brings with it the entitlement to citizenship of Jerusalem on the basis of faith not race.

This psalm therefore rebukes and challenges the narrowness of nationalistic pride and prejudice. Similarly, in Isaiah 2, we learn that people of many different nations will come to Jerusalem and put their faith in God and walk in his ways. One of the glorious consequences of this is that Jerusalem will become associated with the end of war, and with peace and reconciliation between the nations.

“The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:3-5).

2. Jerusalem in the Christian Scriptures: A Heavenly City

So what place does Jerusalem fulfil within Christian tradition? There is both good and bad news. First, the bad news. Far from promising a prosperous future at the centre of a revived Jewish state or even a millennial kingdom, Jesus lamented the impending destruction of Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.  Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Luke 13:34-35)

Quoting Psalm 118:26, Jesus displays the instincts of a protective mother concerned for the people of Jerusalem as if they were his very children. A little later, on Palm Sunday, Jesus expresses perhaps his strongest emotions toward the city and its fickle people:

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.  They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” (Luke 19:41-44)

With the total destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, stone by stone, the slaughter of tens of thousands of Jews and the exile of the remnant as slaves of Rome, Jesus’ sad prediction came true, to the letter. The Christian scriptures instead, look increasingly to another Jerusalem.

The focus of the New Testament shifts away from an earthly onto a heavenly Jerusalem which by faith in Jesus, we are already citizens.

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband… I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.”
(Revelation 21:2, 22-24).

In this one all consuming vision, God’s people now embrace all nations, God’s land encompasses the whole earth, and God’s holy city has become the eternal dwelling place of all who trust in Him.

3. Jerusalem in God’s Purposes: A Reconciling City
To summarize, in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, God reveals that he expects Jerusalem to be a shared, inclusive city of faith, hope and love.  The Scriptures also envisage a glorious future for Jerusalem. One that impacts and benefits the entire world. The vision is of an inclusive and shared Jerusalem in which the nations, including the Jewish people, are blessed.  Perhaps this is why, when Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for exploiting the international visitors to the temple, he quotes from Isaiah, “For my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:7, cf. Matthew 21:13). But today, we have to live with the reality of a Jerusalem that is associated with apartheid and racism, with exclusive claims that can only be sustained by oppression and injustice, by military occupation, the denial of human rights, the disregard for international law, access to religious sites and freedom of expression. Living between Jerusalem past and Jerusalem future, what is our religious responsibility in the present? In June 2009, I helped write the Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism endorsed and signed by the Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem. The Declaration explains the reasons for their rejection of the exclusive Zionist claims to Jerusalem.

Statement by the Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches In Jerusalem[1]

‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.’
(Matthew 5:9)

“We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation…

We affirm that all people are created in the image of God. In turn they are called to honour the dignity of every human being and to respect their inalienable rights.

We affirm that Israelis and Palestinians are capable of living together within peace, justice and security.

We affirm that Palestinians are one people, both Muslim and Christian. We reject all attempts to subvert and fragment their unity.

We call upon all people to reject the narrow world view of Christian Zionism and other ideologies that privilege one people at the expense of others.

We are committed to non-violent resistance as the most effective means to end the illegal occupation in order to attain a just and lasting peace.

With urgency we warn that Christian Zionism and its alliances are justifying colonisation, apartheid and empire-building.

God demands that justice be done. No enduring peace, security or reconciliation is possible without the foundation of justice. The demands of justice will not disappear. The struggle for justice must be pursued diligently and persistently but non-violently.

‘What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6:8)

By standing on the side of justice, we open ourselves to the work of peace – and working for peace makes us children of God. ”

On Palm Sunday, the Apostle Luke tells us,

“As he [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42).

I believe Jesus continues to weep not only over Jerusalem, but also for all his children in the Middle East. I believe he weeps , for those who promote a theology of war and conquest that contradicts the model Jesus has given us in Himself.

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

May God give us the courage and strength to fulfil this role.

Paper to be delivered at the International Conference on Jerusalem, 26-27 February, Doha, Qatar.

A longer version of this paper is available here.

For a more detailed paper on the place of Jerusalem within biblical tradition, based on my book Zion’s Christian Soldiers, see here.


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Connecting with the Palestinian Church

Stephen Sizer on Connecting with the Palestinian Church from Christ at the Checkpoint on Vimeo.

A short video made to promote the international conference Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 and my burden to see the Church worldwide connect with the Palestinian and Messianic church to work toward justice and reconciliation in Israel and Palestine.

Please also read the Seven Affirmations of the conference organisers which reflect our motivation and hopes.

See more Christ at the Checkpoint videos here.

Conference package deals are now available for participants traveling from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada! These packages will provide reduced airfare, accommodation rates, and tour package options for conference attendees.

Participants from the United States can view tour package options via our Stateside partner, Harmony International. Participants from the United Kingdom can view tour package options via our British partner, Christian Travel. Participants from Canada can view tour package options via our Canadian partner, HOPE Outreach.

For more details on package deals and registration information, please visit the Registration page.

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Executive Briefing on the Middle East: 15 November 2011

On Tuesday, November 15, 2011 EMEU will conduct a special Executive Briefing on the Middle East in the Bay area of San Francisco in the city of Fremont and held in the historic Centerville Presbyterian Church founded in 1853.

The purpose of this special one day briefing is to inform and gain insight into today’s Middle East. EMEU is inviting business and civic leaders, mission pastors, seminary and Bible college professors, and others for full day briefing ending with a banquet in the evening. Included in the briefing will be close interaction and round table discussions between Western and Middle Eastern leadership.

Since its start-up in 1985 EMEU has conducted strategic briefings and consultations on the Middle East. Our last meeting was in Dallas, Texas in November of 2010 when EMEU celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Prior to that, we met in Washington, D.C. at the Capitol Center in November 2009. Other EMEU events over the years have taken place in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jerusalem plus one in 2006 at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois jointly sponsored by EMEU and The Billy Graham Center.

Attendance is by invitation only.

If you are not on the EMEU mailing list or EMEU News list and would like to apply for an invitation to this briefing please click subscribe and type the acronym EBOME in the “why you wish to subscribe” block.

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