Opening Session for Christ at the Checkpoint 4: The Gospel in the Face of Religious Extremism
BETHLEHEM, Palestine – Six years ago, Bethlehem Bible College organized the first Christ at the Checkpoint conference to ask: what would Jesus do in the face of an Israeli checkpoint? How does Christ’s Gospel respond to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today? Three international conferences later, we ask the same question within an intensified context of violence and suffering: how does the Gospel respond in the face of religious extremism? As the global church, and especially as Palestinian Christians, how are we to understand and follow Christ’s example in response to the ideological, political and spiritual conflicts gripping our region and world?
Yesterday night, several hundred delegates from twenty-three nationalities, Israel included, gathered in the Orient Palace Hotel for the opening ceremony of Christ at the Checkpoint 2016. Their aim, and that of this entire conference, is to understand the dangers of religious extremism, whether Muslim, Jewish, Christian or any other, and to formulate a Christ-like response. The opening session included welcome addresses from the mayor of Beit Jala, Nicola Khamis, the president of Bethlehem Bible College Rev. Dr. Jack Sara, and the secretary general of the World Evangelical Alliance Bishop Efraim Tendero, among others. Worship, musical performance and a poetry reading and reflection were also provided by the Bethlehem Bible College choir, Tamer Sahoury and Albert Bassil and poet Lucy Berry.