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By Charles Gardner
A Jesus movement among both Jews and Muslims in the Middle East has been described by a Japanese-American pastor as a spiritual awakening that has never been seen before.
Peter Tsukahira was addressing a conference in Jerusalem aimed at strengthening the bonds of reconciliation between the sons of Abraham (Isaac and Ishmael). An invitation-only event, At the Crossroads is being hosted in the Old City by Christ Church, the oldest Protestant church in the region.
Arab, Iranian, Turkish and Kurdish delegates attending from countries perceived as enemies of Israel have risked their lives to come and enjoy the hospitality of their Jewish brothers, quite apart from the fact that Christians are suffering severe persecution in many of the Muslim-background nations represented.
Pastor Tsukahira, who is co-leader of a congregation on Mt Carmel in the north of Israel made up of both Jews and Arabs, said an awakening was taking place along the so-called ‘Isaiah 19 Highway’, which runs from Egypt to Assyria (including much of the Arab Middle East) via Israel. The prophet Isaiah had foretold of a time when these nations would become a blessing to one another.
The pastor said the church at large was in danger of entering a ‘dark age’ but could change the world if they affected every facet of life and culture with biblical foundations.
“Christianity is at a crossroads. One day Islam is going to fall, and then the Christians are going to have to step up with the answer and fill the vacuum. However, the kingdom of God is more than a gospel of church growth.”
One area in which the church had failed over the centuries was in cutting itself off from its Hebraic roots. But the last few verses of the Old Testament (in Malachi) speaks of how the hearts of the fathers will turn to their children, and the children to their fathers – paving the way for the Messiah’s second coming.
This, he says, refers to Christians re-connecting with their Jewish founding fathers. After all, God’s promise to Abraham was that he would be a blessing to all nations.
“I think it’s like going to a long movie after the intermission. We never understand why it ends the way it does, or learn of the part played by characters earlier on.”
He believes that a big breakthrough among Arab Muslims will come quickly and suddenly and will provoke the Jews to jealousy, paving the way for Israel’s national acceptance of Jesus as Messiah.
Charles Gardner is a Cape Town-born journalist who has worked in the newspaper industry for 40 years. Part-Jewish, he grew up in South Africa and became a fully committed Christian as a young man living in London before moving to Yorkshire more than 33 years ago. He is the author of “Israel the Chosen: Why the Jews are special” and is currently working on plans to launch a new UK national newspaper reporting and interpreting the news from a biblical perspective.