Guest Post by Tom Fuerst, teaching pastor at The Table
Two Sundays ago, The Table had the wonderful opportunity to hear Nabil Samara preach on the Bitter Waters of Marah from Exodus. Nabil is a powerful witness to the work of God amongst the Palestinian people. His ministry is church planting in an area of the world largely skeptical of Christianity, especially as it’s associated with Western and American colonialism. As a Palestinian, Nabil identifies with the wandering Old Testament Israel, trying to find their identity and security in a world of bigger, more violent and more powerful nations. As a Christian, Nabil identifies with Old Testament Israel’s experience of being a religious minority in a world dominated by Muslim Palestinians and Jewish Israelis.
To that end, Nabil reminded us again and again that our identity is found, not in our nationality, religious system, language, or enemies, but solely in the truths of the Gospel. For Nabil, it was not merely enough to know God had turned the bitter waters sweet, but that we must actually drink and partake of it. It is not enough for us to merely see the lamb God provided as a substitute for Isaac in Genesis 22; we must actually sacrifice the lamb. And it is not enough for us to merely look at the cross of Jesus and appreciate it as spectators; we must bring it into our everyday lives, to see the way it reshapes and reframes everything.
God is at work among the people of Palestine. Nabil and Bethlehem Bible College do not have an easy task ahead of them. The violence in the region, the threats against their Palestinian identities (and bodies!) and the religious and political ideologies that dominate the region all make the work of Palestinian believers more complicated and perplexing than most of us can imagine.
But through the Gospel living in them, they have re-imagined a world where violence does not win, where ideology does not trump the Gospel and where international politics must be addressed but are never assumed to be a replacement for true Gospel grit and grace.
The Table was blessed to hear from and pray for Nabil. I only pray we were as much a blessing to him as he was to us. And I, personally, am looking forward to many more years of partnering with Bethelehem Bible College to bring the good news of the Gospel to the Palestinian people – good news, not only for the soul, but for the body, the community and for politics. Nabil and our friends at BBC represent the best of biblical Christianity.