ADAMS speaks to Harry Tees, general secretary of the United
Christian Council in Israel about the current crisis in the
What is the United Christian Council in Israel?
"The United Christian Council in Israel (UCCI) was founded
in 1956 as an umbrella organization for evangelical churches
and Christian organizations operating in Israel. Today, the
UCCI is comprised of thirty local churches and para-church
organizations. Our vision is to join together in issues of
common concern and empower our member organizations to be
an even brighter light in our communities. Our member organizations
operate in various ministries including education and biblical
study, hospital and humanitarian services, publications and
literature, and work among children."
Tees, general secretary of the United Christian Council
"I believe that the purpose of the Church should
be to walk in the opposite spirit. As the world is
consumed with war among the kingdoms of this world,
we should be concentrated on love, hope and the kingdom
of God. As ambassadors of Christ, we should be proactive
in times of strife to invite people into relationship
been the response of churches in Israel to the conflict taking
place in the Middle East?
"The response of the local churches has been to care
for their members and to minister in their communities. In
a time of uncertainty and fear, the church has provided a
sense of security and peace. They have responded in prayer
both at home as well as working to mobilize prayer in the
body of Christ world-wide. It has not been easy for the communities,
especially for families with children."
What do you think the role of churches and Christians
should be in such a situation?
"The role of pastors is to care for their flock in order
that those in the church can care for the people around them.
The Church should be a shining light to all. I believe that
the purpose of the Church should be to walk in the opposite
spirit. As the world is consumed with war among the kingdoms
of this world, we should be concentrated on love, hope and
the kingdom of God. As ambassadors of Christ, we should be
proactive in times of strife to invite people into relationship
Does the UCCI have a position with regard to the action
being undertaken by Israel?
"We as the UCCI have no official political position.
We leave politics to the politicians. Naturally different
member organizations have differing political opinions. The
position of the UCCI is described clearly in the following
paragraph taken from the book UCCI 50 Years Anniversary:
'The UCCI, as an organization, has not chosen one or the other
ideology and leaves it up to its members to have their own
persuasions. What binds us together is not an ideology, but
our belief in Jesus as the Messiah for all, and as such, to
be a witness to all. Translated into the particular situation
of the Arab-Israel conflict, we desire to be God’s witness
to both sons of Abraham - to Isaac and his descendent and
to Ishmael and his descendent alike'."
What is the atmosphere like in Israel at the moment?
"Israel is comprised of different regions that are affected
differently. The areas most heavily affected by the rockets
are in the Galilee north of Haifa, Nazareth and Tiberius.
People there are living in an atmosphere of uncertainty and
fear. South of this line people are also affected since most
of the population has family members who have been called
to fight in the war. The atmosphere here is tense to say the
Have you been in contact with church leaders in Lebanon? What
are they telling you?
" I personally have good relationships with those in
ministry positions in Lebanon and we try to assist them by
raising aid and mobilizing prayer to help them in a critical
time in their ministry. We also discussed sending teams from
outside of Lebanon to help the churches. But for now, this
is counter-productive given the logistical challenges. We
therefore encourage people to give financial aid instead."
this conflict mean in the longer term for Christians in the
"Personally I believe that we are on the verge of an
era of peace between Israel and Lebanon. No one wants to see
another a repetition of what we are seeing now. Yes, there
will be radical elements in the different sectors of society
but I pray and believe that reason will prevail. I also dare
to hope and pray that a sustainable peace agreement will be
established in the near future. We have seen in the past that
revival has come in times of peace. If indeed peace comes
to the region, the churches will experience this revival.
While the world's attention has been focused on what's
been happening in Lebanon, what has been going on in Gaza
and the West Bank?
"The West Bank has been relatively quiet. However, the
situation in Gaza is still very serious. The abduction of
a soldier and constant missile attacks by Gaza militants have
provoked Israel into action. The people there are facing a
humanitarian crisis. Electricity is unavailable to sporadic
at best, this means; no cooling, no storing whatever food
is left, and no communication. Other social services have
also broken down e.g. water and sewage. There have been many
deaths, militants as well as innocents. There, the end is
not yet in sight."
As the conflict continues through August, what do you see
as the greatest threat for the future?
"I am sure you refer to intervention by Iran or even
Syria's involvement. Personally I don't believe that Iran
will intervene even though they are desperate to divert attention
from their nuclear program due to pressure from the international
community. They would rather assist Hezbollah in their fight
than to join the fight themselves. Syria also has no desire
for direct involvement due to the very delicate balance of
power in their government. Getting involved might cause a
tipping point in which the Syrian government would fall. This
would mean a lot of uncertainty for the Middle East in general
which is in no one’s interest."
dare to hope and pray that a sustainable peace agreement
will be established in the near future. We have seen
in the past that revival has come in times of peace.
If indeed peace comes to the region, the churches
will experience this revival."
Do you see
an end to the fighting in sight?
"Fighting on the current scale will not last a long time
in Lebanon. I am sure that we will soon see a ceasefire. But
the political process to come to lasting peace agreement may
Have you heard any stories of how God has been able to bring
good out of the situation as yet?
"Here is an email from a friend in Lebanon: “They
are bombing all around us. Very close...We need to find a
way to leave to a safer place. We have one car with so many
people to put in... pray that we find someone to help with
transportation...The bridge next to our house is destroyed.”
Then three days later: “A note to say we are in
a safe area with my parents, all of us. A miracle happened
with transport. Someone that I know from a different village
was coming to see the damage in our village I saw his van
from our balcony I called him and he accepted to take us.
Thanks for praying...My mom just told me please continue to
pray for Lebanon, she was in tears when I told her how many
people are praying.”
And another story from Nazareth:
"Yesterday, we all were at home around 4.30 pm.
A missile fell directly behind our house (about 50 meters),
two innocent boys (three and seven years old) were killed
and 16 people injured. And nothing happened to our house
except that my two daughters had to pass again through the
whole fear and scare but this time it was so close to us.
We left our house running somewhere we didn’t know where,
and finally we stopped at my mother-in-law (who is a believer)
- being together gives us comfort and assurance. We
prayed and we had a safe night. Hallelujah."
Have churches from outside the Middle East been in contact
with you during the crisis?
" Yes, it is very heart warming to read the encouraging
email sent to us by those who pray and are concerned for us.
I have sent updates to our ministry supporters and friends
asking them for prayer in specific crisis areas. I also have
joined in prayer support for others like the Lebanese pastor
and his family that I mentioned above."
What are you praying for with regard to the situation?
"We are praying that this conflict will come to a quick
resolve. Many people in these times ask life's most important
questions: What am I here for? Where I am going after I die?
Why do we suffer all of this? God has answers for all these
questions. He is waiting to answer, they only need to turn
their face to him. We have seen after conflicts like this
that people are more open than ever before to a personal relationship
with God. I pray that as believers we can introduce them to
the one who is the answer."
Is there anything Christians outside of the Middle East can
do to help?
"Of course the answer is yes. The most important role
is prayer. Our fight is not against flesh and blood. The only
one who can bring peace to the land is the Prince of Peace
himself. Another important role for Christians outside the
Middle East is to get involved in long-term partnerships with
evangelical groups here. We need to be supported and encouraged
so that we can support and encourage. We cannot give what
we have not received ourselves."