Christ at the Checkpoint III - Why Another Conference?
The third Christ at the Checkpoint conference will take place in Bethlehem in March 10-14, 2014. The conference will be organized by Bethlehem Bible College, and will follow the success of the first conference in 2010, and the second one in 2012. The theme of the conference will be "Christ at the Checkpoint III - Your Kingdom Come", which is based on the Lord's prayer.
So why are we doing a third conference? This is a question we asked ourselves as we were assessing the last conference and considering and planning the one in 2014. To begin with, the occupation, the wall, the checkpoint, and the conflict with its many aspects are still there! We cannot ignore our reality. Our call as Christians is to be peacemakers and to lovingly challenge all forms of injustice. Today it seems that the conflict is still far from being solved. In fact, over the last few years the situation has deteriorated. In the last year we have witnessed the Gaza war, severe economical struggles of the Palestinian National Authority, expansion of settlements, the Palestinian UN bid, and the continual deadlock of the peace process.
The situation in the wider Middle East is no different. The bloodshed continues in Syria, with no light in the horizon. Iraq and Egypt are in turmoil, and it is evident that the new "democratic" reality did not produce the hoped-for stability and freedom Arabs longed for, and in many cases Arab Christians are suffering as a result.
The level of hatred and animosity is also on the rise, and this, probably more than anything, is one of the biggest hinderances for peace and stability in Palestine/Israel and the Middle East. Radical and racist voices are becoming louder and louder, and we are in a desperate need of a new paradigm of hope, acceptance, and love. Sami Awad says it best:
For anything to move forward in the Holy Land, a relationship of trust and respect must be established between the peoples. Peace is not just negotiated agreements between politicians. Peace is the process of building trust and respect between the peoples of the land. To be able to see each other with new eyes. To be able to really understand who the “other” is. To appreciate them—their culture, their heritage, the narrative that they bring to the table. Trust and respect are the foundations.It is with all of this in mind that we will meet at the checkpoint again in 2014. Christ at the Checkpoint is our attempt as Palestinian Christians to bring Jesus into our context, which we defined using the symbol of the checkpoint. We want to ask:
"What would Christ say and do if he is to stand in front of a checkpoint today?"
"What would his message be to the Palestinian crossing the checkpoint? And to the Israeli solder who is stopping him?"
"What is the Christian calling in the midst of this reality?"
We have chosen the phrase from the Lord's Prayer "Your Kingdom Come" as the theme of the coming conference. The Christ at the Checkpoint manifesto begins with: "The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel."
Therefore, we also want to ask:
"How would the kingdom of God look like, today and now, in Palestine/Israel?"
"How should the teachings of Jesus shape our thinking, attitude and action regarding the conference?"
"What would 'kingdom acts' look like today?"
The mission of Christ at the Checkpoint is, therefore, to Challenge Evangelicals To Take Responsibility To Help Resolve the Conflicts in Israel-Palestine By Engaging With the Teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God.
We invite you to join us in March 10-14, 2014 in Bethlehem as we pray, worship, study scripture and seek together to bring the reality of the kingdom of God on earth.
We hope to see in Bethlehem in 2014!
For further details and updates about the 2014 conference, please check the conference website www.christatthecheckpoint.com
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