BY RYAN JONES, ISRAEL TODAY—
The First Baptist Church in Bethlehem was ordered closed by the Palestinian Authority on Saturday, according to Rabbi Russell Resnik of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. Resnik reported the incident after meeting with Pastor Steven Khoury, the son of First Baptist’s head pastor, Naim Khoury.
“Steven told me that…a representative of the Palestinian authority showed up at his father’s church in Bethlehem and told him to shut the doors–they were closing down the church,” wrote Resnik.
The Palestinian officials reportedly did not specify why they were closing the church, but Steven, who pastors his own church in Jerusalem, told Resnik that it must be because of his family’s support for Israel.
Observers have noted with suspicion that the shuttering of First Baptist in Bethlehem came just one day after the Christ at the Checkpoint conference, which was organized and hosted by Bethlehem-based Christian leaders who do not support Israel’s restoration.
Messianic blog Rosh Pina Project noted that Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the same Palestinian Authority that shuttered First Baptist, had only days earlier attended and addressed Christ at the Checkpoint.
In 2009, Steven Khoury was interviewed by CBN on the true reason for the suffering of Bethlehem’s Christians. You can view that video here: