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Christian World News: September 28, 2012

On this week's Christian World News: One man's journey from war's front lines to faith in Christ, Indonesia Christians kicked out of their church building, why Spanish-speaking Jews are returning to Israel, and more. Read Transcript


Today on Christian World News -

Running for Hope.

How one man went from the frontlines of civil war to crossing

the finish line of a marathon.

And found God along the way.

Plus -

A megachurch risesin Indonesia.

But the world's largest Muslimcountry still persecutes

Christians by shuttingtheir churches down.

And -

Why are thousands ofSpanish-speaking Jews returning

to Israel?

Could it be part ofa biblical prophecy?

And welcome to ChristianWorld News, everyone.

I'm Wendy Griffith.

George Thomas is on assignment.

With civil war on its borderand Hezbollah provoking Israel,

the people of Lebanon facealmost constant conflict.

But God still moves inthis troubled nation.

Gary Lane shows us how onesoldier's life was transformed

during Lebanon's civil war.

Lebanese American Elie Hasbaninever dreamed he'd live in

Milwaukee, and he never imaginedhe'd be running a marathon.

My main inspiration is Jesus.

That's why I'm doing, thisbecause of him, and because he

changed my life.

His life journey began halfa world away, in Lebanon.

It's a beautiful country.

It's mentioned inthe Bible many times.

And the cedars of Lebanon aregorgeous, and this country is

really in my heart.

Raised in a Christian culture,he grew up peacefully with his

Muslim neighbors.

These people, their childrenwere my best friends.

We just loved to betogether and have fun.

Some were Palestinian,not Lebanese.

Palestinians came toour country as refugees.

We hosted them, we liked them,we sympathized with them and now

they turn against us andthey want to kill us.

Civil war broke out in 1975when the Palestinian Liberation

Organization and its Muslimbackers attacked Israel and

Christian villages in Lebanon.

Elie joined theIsraeli-supported SLA, South

Lebanon Army.

I wanted to protect my family.

I wanted to protect my identityas a Lebanese, or as a Christian

at that time, and thepeople of my country.

The Lebanese civil war took itstoll, surrounding him with death

and destruction.

You don't know if you willdie today or tomorrow.

So I started hating myself,not only hating my enemy.

So I started drinking to forget.

I didn't care about life.

I didn't care if Iwould die or live.

Elie's thinking changed quicklyafter his commander ordered him

to disarm enemy rockets.

That's when a land mineexploded beneath his feet.

I started thinking I'm goingto die, but how can I face God

right now?

God is going to judge me.

I was so afraid.

I said, "Jesus, if youare alive, save me.

I don't want to go to hell."

Elie's life was spared.

He lost his left leg,but gained salvation.

Called to ministry, heeventually joined Youth With A

Mission and later attendedBible seminary in Beirut.

And it was right here in Beirutwhere Elie studied and he first

preached, that he learned it wasno longer safe for him to remain

in Lebanon.

So he packed up his family andhe left the country of his birth

and headed for America.

He now serves as a nation'spastor at Milwaukee's Eastbrook

Church, home to Christiansfrom 60 countries.

I'm trying to equip the church,help the church understand more

how to work cross-culturally,how to love people from

different countries around.

Elie says God gave him a visionto do something bigger, to share

his heart for the nations,not only with the people of

Eastbrook Church, but with theentire Milwaukee community.

Each year he sponsors andparticipates in a charitable

marathon race called"Running for Hope."

The idea came as Elieplayed soccer with his sons.

[I said,] "Why don't I run?

Why don't I start anorganization called Running for

Hope, and do the fundraising,and then ship a container of

wheelchairs, crutches, walkers."

CBN News talked with someof this year's participants.

I run with Elie becausehe's so inspirational.

He runs with one leg and if Ihave two, I feel like I can help

him out and help hiscause, and I can.

It's called Running for Hope andI feel like we give hope to a

lot of people.

Elie tells his story in thebook "The Good Soldier."

He hopes to return to Lebanonsomeday to personally deliver

wheelchairs and other help.

That's unlikely to happen aslong as the militant Islamic

group Hezbollahdominates the country.

I want to offersomething to them.

I want to share my story becausethese people need God more than

any, because we had war.

These people arebroken, suffering.

They are still suffering andthere is a lot of hate, enmity,

and revenge.

We need God.

In the meantime, Elie sayshe'll continue the annual

marathon.

He also wants to encourageothers to win life's spiritual

race.

You have to have endurance andthis relationship with Christ in

order to win the race.

He was there for me whenI was dying on the ground.

And I knew that in heavennow my leg will come back.

And not only I have eternallife, I will have a new body.

And I can run and I can fly.

I can enjoy this body.

That's my hope.

Thanks, Gary.

Turning to Indonesia now,Indonesia's constitution

guarantees freedom of religion.

But in many places Christiansare still blocked from building

churches there.

Asia reporter Lucille Talusanpaid a visit to one church that

was closed by a Muslimfundamentalist group.

Then she visited the localMuslim leader to ask why.

In recent months, manyChristian churches have been

forcibly closed in the world'smost populous Muslim nation.

That's why it's ironicthat despite the religious

intolerance, some churches areacquiring their own buildings.

Behind me is the biggestChristian church building here

in downtown Jakarta, a raresite in this country where many

places of Christian worshipare closed down by Muslim

hardliners.

It took the Indonesian ReformedEvangelical Church 16 years to

gain permission tobuild this megachurch.

Their story has a happy ending,but others are still struggling.

Just two hours drive fromthe capital, the Batak Karo

Protestant Church was sealed offeven after obtaining a building

permit.

This is the permit that thisProtestant church got for their

building project.

But the Muslims still came andpadlocked this place when the

church began holding theirworship services, because

according to the Muslims thismulti-function hall should not

be used as a real church.

The Muslim fundamentalists hunga banner which said "We warned

you not to have any Christianactivity in this hall.

Now we are sealingthis building."

Our church has 250 members.

As far as we know, we have beenobeying what the government

requires and yet they didn'tdo anything to protect us from

those protesters.

They told us to get a permit sowe can do church activities but

now that we have it, they saywe should build first the church

structure.

Unfortunately, we don'tyet have sufficient funds.

Dr.

Ahmad is the leader of ananti-proselytizing movement.

He stressed that it is essentialfor both Muslims and Christians

to follow the lawsregarding places of worship.

There is no such thing asthey can't pray or worship.

It is the place theyuse that is closed down.

They should not claim thathouses are churches because they

are not.

In the same way, the Muslimscannot pray in a shop and say

that is a mosque.

Aside from legalizing the placeof worship, Christians should

follow the ethical code andshould not spread their religion

to people who alreadyhave their own beliefs.

That is when the fireignites and conflict arises.

Let us not fishfrom other ponds.

Let us mind our own business,respect each other so we can

live in harmony.

Christians say they oftenworship in houses because the

government rarely gives thempermission to construct church

buildings.

And Pastor Rena Tetty saystheir church is racial and

ministers only to their ownBatak Karo ethnic group.

In the midst of this crisis,they have not given up meeting

regularly.

Every week, they come to thisundisclosed place to pray and

study God's Word.

We need to be patient.

We should not provoke theMuslims who sealed our place of

worship.

Instead, we shouldpray and wait.

We don't know how long it willtake but we believe God will

vindicate us because nothingis impossible with him.

Lucille Talusan, CBN News,West Java, Indonesia.

Thanks, Lucille.

And coming up -

A journey 500 yearsin the making.

Why Hispanic Jews are makingtheir way back to Israel.

Thousands of Sephardites,descendants of Jews in Spain and

Portugal, fled Europe backin 1492 after a royal decree

ordered them to convertto Christianity.

Today, many are returning, notto Spain, but to the desert of

southern Israel, in what someconsider a fulfillment of

biblical prophecy.

Stan Jeter has more.

Fireworks light the sky overthe desert city of Beersheba, as

Israel celebratesits independence.

Thousands of immigrantsjoin the festivities.

Among them, the JavierMontenegro family, who arrived

from Argentina in 2003.

Javier Montenegro, Negev BibleCenter: The first thing we saw

was a great number of Hispanics.

We found some 15,000 Hispanicscoming from the nations.

The majority were Argentinean,because of the crisis in

Argentina.

For some Bible scholars, thearrival of Hispanics in the

Negev desert is the fulfillmentof a prediction by the prophet

Obadiah.

Obadiah 20, the prophecy thatthe Jews of Sephardim, of Spain,

returning to the city of theNegev, and Beersheba is the

capital of theNegev, of the desert.

Our forefathers passed throughSpain, to Latin America, and

we're returning inthe purpose of God.

Yet the purpose of God for theMontenegro family was not that

clear.

We were led to adeep search for God.

Many times I went to the desertto pray, to seek the Lord.

Montenegro is a Christianwhose mother was Jewish.

He believed God wanted him tostart a church, but Beersheba's

spiritual climate was very cold.

People didn't want to hearabout the Lord, about Jesus,

Yeshua.

So we felt like the onlyones in the city who thought

differently.

They invited people oneby one and started a small

congregation.

But another challenge soonreared its head: persecution.

The religious Orthodox, theythink that they are like the

spiritual police of the country.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews actuallyattacked a Messianic

congregation inBeersheba in 2005.

There have been threateningphone calls and more.

In our neighborhood, theOrthodox rang the doorbells of

all our neighbors and told themwe were unwelcome people, that

we were missionaries and wecould change the way people

think, that we weredangerous to the children.

In spite of opposition, theHispanic congregation began to

grow.

Today the Negev Bible Center isa community of some 80 people.

But many of those gathered herehave thought of returning to

their homeland.

Life is expensive in Israel, andthe work available to Hispanics,

cleaning offices andbuildings, pays very little.

So husband and wife both haveto work many hours just to

survive, and it's not enough.

So they can't have a car,there are a lot of limitations.

So we help with food, we try tohelp our brothers but there's

not enough andthere's so much need.

Life in Beersheba is not onlyhard, it can be dangerous.

There's the threat of warand Palestinian missiles.

We're 25 miles from Gaza.

We've started to receivemissiles in the city.

Every war that we've had hashelped the Hispanics to turn to

God.

The congregation has plans tobuy their own bunker for 500

people.

When the warning siren goes off,residents only have a minute to

find shelter.

So we need a place of refuge,because the time of war is when

we most want to be together asa family of the Lord, praying,

worshiping the Lord.

But when Montenegro thinksof the rest of Beersheba's

population, he's movedby their spiritual need.

A lot of people go to thesynagogue festivals just out of

tradition.

But there are a lot of secularpeople who turn a deaf ear.

There are a lot ofatheists, a lot of Masons.

In the newspapers you can seehoroscopes, and palm readers,

witches.

Although this congregation issmall, it offers an answer to

the confusion and spiritualapathy of Beersheba, calling its

people to return to the Godof the patriarchs Abraham and

Isaac, who centuries ago foundlife-giving water here in the

desert.

We love this land.

We've sold ourhouse in Argentina.

We've bought a house in Israel.

And we want to give our lives,we want to serve the Lord all

the days the Lord gives us here.

Stan Jeter, CBN News.

And up next -

She was a confident newsanchor on top of her game.

Now she talks about the struggleshe faced when the camera turned

off.

As a news anchor for CNN'sHeadline News, Christi Paul was

the face of confidence.

But behind closed doors shesuffered years of emotional

abuse from the man sheloved the most, her husband.

Millions of women are victimsof emotional abuse and many feel

powerless to make any changesto escape this way of life.

Christi Paul of CNN's HeadlineNews was one of those women.

At 26, she was a newlywed andon her wedding day her husband

turned abusive.

In her book "Love Isn'tSupposed to Hurt," Christi

shares her personal story ofbreaking the cycle of abuse and

how others can get thehelp they desperately need.

And Christi Paul joins us now.

It's so nice tohave you with us.

Oh, thank you, Wendy.

And I read your book, "LoveIsn't Supposed to Hurt."

I couldn't put it down.

When you were in that four yearmarriage-of course it started

out you thought you were goingto have the fairy tale-but when

you began to recognize theabuse, how did that make you

feel to endure that daily abuse?

You know, you feel worthlessalready because of the things

that are being said to you andscreamed at you and the names

that you're being called.

But then I think compoundingit every time you stay that

worthlessness just settles in alittle bit more because you know

on some level what'shappening to you is wrong.

In the book you talk aboutyour Christian faith helped you

really survive this.

How did your faith help you?

Well, I've always hadmy faith in my life.

I mean, I've grownup in the church.

My family is a family that praystogether and prays for each

other.

And I feel that strength.

There was a time when I waspraying so hard that God would

heal this marriage and it wasn'thappening and I felt like God

abandoned me.

But I realized at some pointwhen I started to turn into that

zombie and not allow myself tohave any emotions, this is not

what God meant for me to be.

I can't make myex-husband-well, husband at that

time-can't make him less angry,can't make him stop drinking,

but I can control myself.

And at some point I think Ijust realized I'm not serving my

purpose by being in thismarriage and letting it stifle

me.

You were so committed to themarriage because you believed

that it's sacred, and it issacred, but what was the straw

that broke the camel's back,that gave you the courage to

leave it?

I think that was it.

I think it was realizingthat I am meant for more.

You are now married again,remarried almost ten years, with

three beautiful daughters.

When you were going throughthis, Christi, did you ever

think that you would findhappiness and true love?

No, and that is what I hopepeople take away from this

besides the fact that it's notokay what's happening to you and

you can't let it really affectthe rest of your life, you can't

walk through life allowing thisincident and other people's

words to define you.

But believe in second chances,because I'm not special.

I mean, what happened tome can happen to anybody.

I learned when you look atsomebody and what they have,

rather than saying, "Oh, I'mhappy for them but that'll never

happen to me," let that be proofto you that it can happen to

you.

It can.

And no matter how far off thepath you got that God had for

you, God will get you back onthat path once you surrender it

to him.

And I am certain that that'sexactly what happened to me.

I'm confident in that.

You've got to learn to seehow something served you.

And the thing is I had to makea list of the benefits of verbal

abuse, which soundsabsolutely outrageous.

When you make those listsyou're not saying it's okay that

it happened to you, firstof all, it was still wrong.

But what you're saying is, "I amnot going to let this control me

one more minute."

And when I made my list of thebenefits of verbal abuse, I

realized I learned to setboundaries because of that

marriage that I clearly hadn'tset before that I needed to set.

I became independent.

I depended on God more.

My capacity to forgive myselfand other people expanded.

When you can see how it servedyou, you can let go of how it's

still haunting you andaffecting you today.

All right.

Christi Paul, Headline Newsanchor and now author, "Love

Isn't Supposed to Hurt,"available at bookstores

everywhere.

You want to get this.

And Christi, we just thankyou for being with us so much.

Christians, Jews and Muslimsall look to Jerusalem as a holy

city.

Yet it's also a city that'sseparated by race and religion.

Now, the Bible Lands Museum isusing a common ancestor to bring

people together.

Julie Stahl brings us thisstory, with video provided by

Israel Up Close Productions.

Half of these 4th graderspounding on drums come from a

Jewish school in Jerusalem.

The rest are from the Arabvillage of Umm Tuba on the

eastern side of the city.

It's hard to tell them apartthough they belong to separate

ethnic groups.

And they rarely meet each other,even though they live in the

same city.

That's why the Bible LandsMuseum invites children from

both sides to come and learnabout who they consider to be

their common ancestor, Abraham.

That's Avraham in Hebrewand Ibrahim in Arabic.

For the past 15 years themuseum has used its "Image of

Abraham" project to promoteunderstanding between Muslims

and Jews.

I had a good experiencealthough I was scared at first.

I realized they arekids just like us.

Ibrahim had never been to thewest side of the city before.

It was good.

I met them and learnedabout a new culture.

Museum director Amanda Weisfounded the Image of Abraham

project to focus on the sharedroots of Judaism, Christianity

and Islam.

It offers young people,children especially, their

teachers and their parents, anopportunity to come together in

an environment that has none ofthe political overtones, works

to develop a sense of mutualrespect and understanding.

The course includes workshopswhere the children recreate

biblical-era objects.

But the process does take time.

Museum counselors begin workingwith each group of children at

their schools months beforethe first museum visit.

This is very important tocomfort the children so that

they feel at ease.

Later at the meeting they speakabout their fears and other

matters, and it helps a lot.

Some parents refuse to allowtheir children to take part in

the coexistence seminars, butthat changed once the course

began.

When the kids who did not cometo the first or the second

meeting, they heard from theirclassmates about what's going on

in the museum, they askedtheir parents to come.

And the parents who came sawthe benefits of their children's

encounter.

I congratulate this initiative.

I think it's very important.

I think our kids are growing upin the same city and sometimes

they don't get to knoweach other at all.

Three of my childrenhave taken part.

And it's good.

I encourage these eventsbetween Arab and Jewish schools.

It breaks barriers between usand the Jewish kids, and we get

to know each other.

One mother suggested thatleaders of all groups in this

region would benefit fromattending the Image of Abraham

project.

Julie Stahl, CBNNews, Jerusalem.

Why can't we allbe like those kids.

Well, thanks forjoining us this week.

From all of us here at ChristianWorld News, good-bye and God

bless you.

See you next time.

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