JERUSALEM, Israel – Two ministries, one Jewish and one Christian, teamed up recently to rescue a Christian woman from Gaza, and their partnership is helping the woman begin a new life.
Pastor Steven Khoury recently met Dina, who traveled all the way from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank City of Bethlehem, just outside Jerusalem.
Upon meeting her, he greeted her with joy, saying, “Hallelujah! You are safe now.”
Prior to their meeting, Pastor Khoury told CBN News why Dina needed to leave Gaza. A Muslim man murdered her Christian husband over a piece of property.
“So what started off as a little dispute of, ‘this is my storefront,’ as a Christian-owned storefront, led to (the Muslim man) saying that, ‘well, I’ll just take it from you.’ And that led to him being stabbed 7 times, leaving her with no kids, no one. And we helped her get out of Gaza – escape Gaza – under a humanitarian flagship.”
We asked what may have happened if Dina had stayed in Gaza. Pastor Khoury replied, “Reports have come to us from her and the people around her that she was next – most probably on the target list.”
That’s when David Nekrutman of the Isaiah Projects, a ministry helping Christians discover the Hebraic roots of their faith, joined Pastor Khoury.
“We felt because she has no kids in Gaza, her family lives outside of Gaza, for her to be a 61-year-old widow, living by herself, surrounded by some radicals in her neighborhood, the safest thing for her was to get out of Gaza,” Nekrutman explained.
Janet Cain is CEO of the Isaiah Projects, and a Christian working with Nekrutman. “Immediately, I made a connection, being a widow myself,” she told us. “I can’t even imagine the circumstances that Dina was going through with being a widow and in such a hostile environment, that immediately my heart went out to her and so I said, yes, we’ll do whatever we can to help her and to meet her needs and get her through this stage.”
Pastor Khoury, Nekrutman and Cain plan to stay by Dina’s side as long as necessary. They see her as a voice for the persecuted.
“We’re seeing her future to be a voice, not only for the widow but to be a voice for those that are suffering for the faith because of what she’s gone through, her experiences and her standing strong in Gaza and not backing down from threats” Khoury said. “She’s a voice. She’s bold. She’s courageous. Actually, it empowers the community to be bolder and stronger. So, that’s our hope, that’s our heart. And we need right now people to stand with us, to help us envision, secure, the next two to three years for her.”
When asked why he felt so compelled to help Dina, Nekrutman answered, “I’m like, as a Jew living in Israel, I always say covenant land comes with covenant responsibility. I can’t be who I am as a steward in this land that has sovereignty, impartial of this land, unless I help out the other.”
He added, I would say most of our commandments in the Hebrew Bible is rooted in that principle of understanding the other. So if you have a marginalized community here in the Holy Land, and specifically in Gaza, where you have less than a thousand Christians living there amongst 1.8 million Muslims, and they’re not first class citizens, they’re second class citizens, wouldn’t (it) be my duty to help? So when you ask me a question like this, I’m like, of course you help. That’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s what I was brought up and how I was raised.”
Cain stressed the importance of prayer in Dina’s case. “First and foremost, we always covet everyone’s prayers because that is what paves the way for anything we do here,” and added, “I was with Dina personally, and I will never forget her grabbing hold on me and saying, ‘Please don’t forget me.’ So that’s what I ask our supporters to do, not to forget this woman in need. And of all the scriptures that is repeated the most, to is to care for the orphan, the widow, and the sojourner. And so that is what we’re doing. We’re actually carrying out the commandment of scripture right here in the Holy Land.”