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Jewish and Arab Baptists commit to cooperate in church starting


SAN JOSE, Calif. (BP)–While peace between Arabs and Jews eludes world leaders, two Southern Baptist pastors, one a messianic Jew, the other a native of Jordan, say the answers can be found in Jesus Christ.

During a Feb. 22 national conference on starting new churches, each pastor committed his congregation to sponsor a new church that will focus primarily on reaching the other’s people. Messianic Rabbi Gus Elowitz of the Beth Yeshua congregation in Houston says his commitment has nothing to do with middle eastern politics.

“We are able to make this commitment because we are one in Messiah, the body of Christ. The body of Messiah is one and there is no other motivation,” Elowitz said.

Likewise, Jordanian native Basem Quesous who pastors the 19th Avenue Baptist Mission in San Francisco says his church members are excited about sponsoring a congregation that will emphasize sharing the Messiah with Jews.

“When we have Christ in our life, we can unite with everyone, black, white, Jew and gentile. There is no difference,” Quesous said.

The commitment ceremony, held during the Home Mission Board’s national conference for church planting leaders, was designed to serve as a model for other churches according to Russell Begaye.


“We wanted other believers to be enthused, encouraged and challenged to start a church among people they may not understand, may have hated in the past or a people who did harm to them,” said Begaye, HMB director of language church starting. “We wanted them to see that Christ is the one who makes the difference.”

Kalil “Charlie” Hanna, a native of Egypt and now a language home missionary in California, agrees such cooperative work wouldn’t be possible apart from Christ. “Before we became Christians, we could fight together, we could kill one another. Now we love one another in Jesus Christ. This is a miracle, the power of the Holy Spirit.”