Steven Khoury, pastor of The First Baptist Church in Bethlehem, is living and ministering in a truly unique arena. With Hamas’ attack on Israel sparking war, Khoury is navigating unchartered and complex waters.
He told CBN Digital that being a Christian pastor in Bethlehem — located in the West Bank — is a “joy,” though it is also overwhelming and “scary” considering current events.
“There’s never a dull moment,” Khoury, a Christian Arab, said. “You’re always stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack and the strife that followed further complicated life in the region, with the pastor explaining how shock overtook the area. Beyond the emotional factors, he said roadblocks prevented people from traveling and food supplies to supermarkets slowed.
“In the last 23 days, traveling has been limited almost … to a stop,” he said. “No food coming into between supermarkets and so forth. It’s gotten better in the last week, but at first … supermarket shelves became very low because there’s no transportation of food and so forth.”
Watch Khoury talk about the challenges, end times theology, and more:
Naturally, he said, everyone is scared and hopeless, which is where his ministry comes into focus.
“We teach our people to love their enemies,” he said. “We teach our people to love those who persecute them. We teach our people to reach out to those who are different regardless of who they are, and to be the light to them, and to be the salt of the Earth.”
Considering the region’s history, tensions are palpable — even more so than normal right now.
Khoury, like many Christians around the globe, has been watching events unfolding in Israel and pondering what might be happening from the eschatological sense. As it turns out, Khoury has experience preaching on the end of days.
“A lot of people don’t know this — Hamas leaders just left … Moscow. They were meeting in Moscow,” he said. “What were they talking about? We know they weren’t just having a drink to stay warm from the cold weather; they were talking about things.”
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He referenced the Old Testament prophecy surrounding Gog and Magog, written about by the Prophet Ezekiel in chapters 38 and 39. The scriptures center on an attempted invasion of Israel by a coalition of nations.
Many Christian leaders believe Magog is Russia, with Persia (modern-day Iran) listed among the nations partnered with Magog. Considering Iran’s connection to Hamas, the current dynamics are certainly noteworthy, including reports of Hamas leaders visiting Russia.
“Could what’s going on right now [be the beginnings that] spark Ezekiel 36, 37, 38, 39?” Khoury said. “I think it’s very possible, because I think most wars are going to be led through proxies.”
Of course, the pastor was careful to note this chaos could temper or die down and calmness could be restored. Regardless, the current happenings have him wondering what’s truly unfolding.
“We haven’t been this close in a long, long time,” he said.
Watch the interview above for more.
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