The Arab Israeli Bible Society (AIBS) shines a light for Christ in the places where he once walked, but it’s a challenge maintaining a presence in this region plagued by unrest and division.
“We live in a war zone and our country is tense,” says AIBS Director, Dina Katanacho.
Aiming to serve the local church and become an instrument of peace, security and hope, AIBS focuses upon reaching and supporting Arab Israeli people – Arabs who became citizens of the State of Israel after its establishment in 1948. It’s a minority group lost between Jewish Israelis and Arab Palestinians.
“Arab citizens of Israel live as second class citizens and are considered a demographic threat by many,” says Ms Katanacho.
Arab Israelis are often ignored in political decisions, and many live below the poverty line. Those who are Christian are then a double minority: part of only 20% of Israelis who are Arabic by ethnicity, and among the 2% of Israelis who are Christian.
“Our visible presence is important especially as a Christian minority living among a Muslim majority within the state of Israel that has a Jewish majority,” explains Ms Katanacho about AIBS’ vital role in the region.
AIBS is limited in the ways it can raise income and struggles to maintain operations so it can serve the Arab-Israeli community.
“We seek to see that Arab-Israeli women, children, young people and men will have a better understanding of Biblical teaching and we pray this will change the way they think and behave,” says Ms Katanacho.
“Our work is strategic because Arabs in Israel are bilingual and bi-cultural. They can be a great bridge for peacemaking and for transforming our war-torn region. The Bible is important in transforming this group of people, which has the potential of transforming the region.”
The AIBS centre in Nazareth offers Scripture resources and interactive community events focused primarily on women and family issues. The community can visit, ask questions, engage with biblical material and attend events. “AIBS is growing,” says Ms Katanacho. “I am thankful that our workshops, conferences, and events have doubled. Our friends and contacts have increased.
“We had to modify some of our ministry to be able to serve the communities despite the [COVID-related] closures. We have worked this year with different churches [and] schools, reaching families and youth, creating for them new programs to address the global challenge and other encounters.
“AIBS has also succeeded in advocating a family-oriented perception of the Bible in local churches,” says Ms Katanacho. “They need good contextual biblical tools. Continuing this approach is important for the future of our community.”
You can help support the AIBS as it Opens The Bible with Arab Israelis and shines Christ’s light in the darkness of conflict and division.