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.
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.
A megachurch risesin Indonesia.
But the world's largest Muslimcountry still persecutes
Christians by shuttingtheir churches down.
Why are thousands ofSpanish-speaking Jews returning
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
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
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
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
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
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,
We need God.
In the meantime, Elie sayshe'll continue the annual
He also wants to encourageothers to win life's spiritual
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.
Turning to Indonesia now,Indonesia's constitution
guarantees freedom of religion.
But in many places Christiansare still blocked from building
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
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
This is the permit that thisProtestant church got for their
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
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
Unfortunately, we don'tyet have sufficient funds.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
For some Bible scholars, thearrival of Hispanics in the
Negev desert is the fulfillmentof a prediction by the prophet
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
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,
So we felt like the onlyones in the city who thought
They invited people oneby one and started a small
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
Today the Negev Bible Center isa community of some 80 people.
But many of those gathered herehave thought of returning to
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
The congregation has plans tobuy their own bunker for 500
When the warning siren goes off,residents only have a minute to
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Christi Paul, Headline Newsanchor and now author, "Love
Isn't Supposed to Hurt,"available at bookstores
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
Yet it's also a city that'sseparated by race and religion.
Now, the Bible Lands Museum isusing a common ancestor to bring
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
And they rarely meet each other,even though they live in the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
See you next time.