In March 2012, a unique Christian International Conference will take place in Bethlehem, Palestine, titled: Christ at the Checkpoint – Hope in the Midst of Conflict. The conference is organized by Bethlehem Bible College in Palestine, an evangelical Christian institution, and it is the second time the College has hosted such a conference. It will be one of the biggest gatherings of evangelical Christians in the Middle East ever to take place.
Among the confirmed speakers for 2012 are John Ortberg, Lynne Hybels (Willow Creek), Shane Clainbore (Simple Way), Tony Campolo, Ron Sider (Evangelicals for Social Action), Samuel Rodriguez (National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference), Chris Wright (Langham Partnership International), Chris Seiple (Institute for Global Engagement), Ken Sande (Peacemaker Ministries), Sang Bok David Kim (chairman of the Asia Evangelical Alliance and the World Evangelical Alliance), and many more.
In addition to the international speakers, local Palestinian and Messianic Jewish leaders will share their own experiences and offer diverse perspectives. Participants will meet Palestinian Christians, and be able to listen and see first-hand the realities on the ground, as seen through the eyes of the people.
The first conference generated much interest and debate and called for evangelicals to work towards peace and justice in Palestine and Israel. It also challenged the traditional stereotypical lens through which Western Christians have looked at the Middle East in general. According to the report from the conference, there was
a Biblical critique of dispensational theology and repudiation of an exclusive theology of the land that marginalizes and disenfranchises the indigenous people. The conference affirmed the strategic role of the Palestinian Evangelical Church in justice, peacemaking and reconciliation. The conference speakers repudiated both Christian Zionism and Anti-Semitism.
As Carl Medearis put it,
If your end-times theology trumps the clear commands in Scripture to love neighbours and enemies, then it is time to rethink your theology.