The Druse: An Unreached People
It all began with the witness of an Arab Christian who brought his Druse friend in contact with members of the Peniel fellowship of Tiberias. A Druse man was converted, and began to witness to those closest to him. His wife was saved, other family members were saved, and pretty soon it became evident that God was working amongst this hitherto unreached people group.
The Druse religion is autonomous in Israel. Out of the one million Druse community scattered throughout Europe, the Middle East, North and South America, approximately 106,000 live in 22 villages located predominately in IsraelÃ‚Â´s northern region and on the Golan Heights. Although the Druse culture, as well as the language is Arabic, the Druse stood up against the wave of Arab nationalism in 1948. Since then they have served in the Israeli army and the border police.
The new Druse believers, now numbering close to 50 adults and children in 13 households, are under the care of the Peniel congregation in Tiberias. The pastor writes that persecution has continued on and off all the time. Only four of the households are pinpointed by the Druse community. Molotov cocktails and small explosives have been thrown at property, and rejection from family and the wider Druse community has become a daily experience. Children have been bitten in school or on the way home, resulting 4 times with broken bones… one young boy broke his arm when he was pushed by a gang of peers who cursed him for being a Christian.
Brother P. has five children. His father in law is a burly man who once served as an officer in the security forces. He carries a gun and had promised his daughter that he will shoot her if he hears that she is involved in any way with the ‘Christians’. This is not an idle threat: in the last three decades there have been dozens of murders related to “family honour” committed in that same village. After tiring of himself being constantly present to monitor his daughter and her family, the father sent her brother in his stead. This young man also finally came to faith. When his father learned of his son’s new faith, he and the entire clan erupted in rage, becoming violent and threatening to take the woman and her children away from her husband.
On 15 February, a few of the sheiks and clan leaders issued an ultimatum to the four families known to be believers: give up your new religion or face the consequences. The church spirited the families out of the village to a retreat centre. Before long, however, all four of the families chose to return to their homes in the village, believing this was God’s direction to them.
Brother N. shared with the pastor that one night as a crowd of people approached his home, he and his family turned out all the lights and hid in a back room, praying. The crowd banged angrily on the door, but they kept praying quietly. Then the banging stopped. All was quiet. Cautiously, Brother N. peeked out of his window and saw something strange: downstairs, the crowd had stopped one metre from the front door. One man was pushing another towards the house, but no one in the front line was willing to go forward. The fear of the Lord stopped them! This kind of experience is crucial for the Druse believers at this time. In the midst of their very real danger they are experiencing God’s faithfulness. They are learning that it is to Him they must turn for help, not to men.
Last month one of the families visited the pastor of Peniel congregation, bringing a young couple with them. The husband had been saved some time ago. During the visit, his wife was saved also. So even in the midst of this great turmoil, God brings his children to himself.
The pastor of Peniel shares further, that much wisdom is needed is drawing the fine line between loving these babes in Christ and helping them without creating undue dependence. The Druse believers are going through a baptism of fire, often before they have been baptised in water. The challenge is to show them compassion and loving care as they suffer, but to know to correct them when they fail in the flesh.
Pray that these new believers will discern God’s will for them and make wise choices. For them to leave the village would mean leaving behind their homes and familiar culture, and face the difficulties of adapting to life in a strange and lonely place. The Druse culture is very tight and closed to outsiders. Some of the women have hardly left the village before.
On the other hand, life in the village is extremely dangerous and tense. They need to know from God if that is really what he is calling them to do. Please pray with them and for them to know God’s perfect will in this situation, and for us as we offer our support in a wise manner.
Taken from Maoz News, a periodic report from Israel, with permission.
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