A Forgotten People :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

A Forgotten People

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The world has fixed its attention on the Palestinian people for several weeks. My attention has been increasingly fixed on the Palestinian people for the past two years. But God’s loving attention has been on these people since He created them.

I’m not writing of an immediate opportunity to go to a specific country. By the time this article is published, the statistics or demographics or politics of the region may be drastically different. The world’s attention may have shifted to the next crisis. But the Palestinian people group (in some form) will still exist, though perhaps scattered into various countries as refugees or locked in a region seemingly more inaccessible and hopeless than before. But I know for certain that God’s heart still will be for their salvation.

The building where I study is full of reminders of both my purpose in life and the region and people I love. The word “EVANGELISM” greets me each time I approach the building. The room where I study is encircled by “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”

The building is decorated with olive branches that remind me of walks through my sunny neighborhood in the Middle East where shiny electric cars park next to old olive trees growing up through the crumbling sidewalk. Sometimes the paintings of the rolling hills of Judea and the bright yellow flowers catch me up in longing to go back.

When I hear the phrase “white unto harvest,” I no longer picture a generic photo of wheat stalks like those often printed on missions promotional materials. I picture a woman running from a well, her sandals stirring up limestone dust, her robe flapping in the cool breeze. I picture Jewish disciples, their muscles tense from their recent interactions with the hated enemy, their brows knitted in confusion as Jesus relays to them God’s purpose for this trip through enemy territory. By white harvest fields, He’s referring to the crowd of their enemies at that moment making their way to Him at the well to “see a man who told me all that I ever did” (as the woman testified). To see a man who just might be the Christ.

No, I didn’t visit the supposed site of Jacob’s well. My group attempted to do so several times but turned back when we heard there was a military raid being carried out in that city. But I can still imagine it. No, the Arabs are not all descendants of the Samaritans (although some religiously practicing Samaritans do live near that well), but some of the hostility between Israelis and Palestinians today makes it easy to draw a parallel to the hostility between Jews and Samaritans in Jesus’ day.

That fact makes Jesus’ conclusion to the story all the more exciting and impactful. Yes, salvation is of the Jews. After all, that bearded man at the well was Jewish by descent. But salvation is for the world. That Jewish man was the very one who insisted on passing through enemy territory.

I praise God that He does not leave Himself without a witness and without true followers of Christ scattered in even the hardest places. But I ask with Paul, how will the Palestinians hear without a preacher? And how can people preach unless they are sent?

Even though you and I may not be able to go there this minute, will you pray? Will you pray for the people God loves who are in circumstances of war­—in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Syria, in Yemen, and refugees of these wars now located around the world? All these are white unto harvest.

Will you pray for people like me who sit under these words “EVANGELISM” and “white unto harvest” that we will indeed “lift up our eyes and look on the fields”? Will you pray for true disciples in these regions on both sides of the conflict to understand God’s harvest purpose for their enemies?