Brothers, Borders & Barbed Wire The Dangers & Difficulties of Travel inTo gaza

.Two Arab Christians...Hanna and Shady...both of them husbands, both of them fathers, and both of them brothers in Christ. One is Egyptian and one Palestinian but they both call Gaza home. Hanna pastors the only evangelical church in Gaza and Shady leads the worship. He also serves as the Assistant Principal at the Lighthouse School. Shady is in Gaza needing to get out and Hanna is in Egypt trying to get back in. A bureaucratic and logistical nightmare for both. And a lesson in patience that few of us could endure or even imagine. This is their story...

Hanna waited over a year in Gaza for the opportunity to travel to Egypt for his ordination after graduating from the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo. In November the border finally opened and he traveled with his family through the Sinai to Cairo and was officially ordained.

As difficult as his departure was, his return is now much more difficult and dangerous. ISIS in the Sinai has killed a number of Christians since the beginning of 2017 in Al-Arish, an Egyptian border town and the Christian community has fled. Hanna would need to pass through Al-Arish with his family to return to Gaza and that is simply too dangerous. The only other option is travel from Egypt through Jordan and Israel with the necessary permits and visas. As an Egyptian national this is possible, though difficult, for Hanna and his children. His wife Janet, however, is Palestinian and this is nearly impossible. The family would need to separate to get back home. One returns and three stay behind...or three return and one stays behind. The church needs their pastor, and the pastor needs his family...so they face this dilemma...an impossible situation. But God...

Shady Najjar, the Lighthouse School Assistant Principal, has waited over two years in Gaza to travel to Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, FL for training in school administration. Shady will soon become the head principal of the Lighthouse School after a three year leadership transition process. Part of that process was supposed to include training, both in the West Bank and in the U.S. He and his family were given three year multiple entry visas to the U.S. two years ago. Unfortunately after numerous applications and requests, Shady and his family have yet to be given permission to cross the Erez Border into Israel for travel to the West Bank or the U.S. Faith Christian Academy is waiting to host him for a month of training if he can ever get out of Gaza...and hopefully before his three year multiple entry visa to the states expires. The latest request we submitted was refused by the Israeli authorities last month on 'professional grounds'. Normally the reason given is 'security concerns'. Whatever the reason the frustration is mounting and the window of opportunity is narrowing and the possibility after two years seems impossible. But God...

I don't share this either to complain of the difficulty or to criticize the government bureaucracies involved but to make you aware and ask you to pray for these two fellow Christians and their families who are trying to serve the Lord in ministry through the church and the school in Gaza and are facing incredible difficulty and danger.

Next month I hope to share a picture of Shady and his family in Orlando, FL and Hanna and his family at the church in Gaza...in answer to prayer to the praise of His glory!

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26

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