Khoury: Church Evicted after '700 Club' Appearance

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- A Jerusalem pastor believes his recent appearance on "The 700 Club" could have contributed to his church being forced out of its building in an Arab neighborhood in east Jerusalem.

Calvary Baptist Church sits in an east Jerusalem neighborhood less than half a mile from the Old City walls. It is surrounded by Muslim neighbors.

"Whenever we started a church in east Jerusalem, we weren't too welcome -- obviously because of who we are -- we're evangelicals," Pastor Steve Khoury told CBN News.

Khoury said things had calmed down until recently, when he toured the United States talking about the struggles facing Arab Christians in the Holy Land.

"I was on CBN and of course I talked about what was going on in the Holy Land, and I talked about needing to grow in east Jerusalem," Khoury said.

In an interview on "The 700 Club" on May 8, Khoury told Pat Robertson, "Christians are leaving because they are seeing nobody's standing with them. They're seeing extremism is growing, anti-Christian agendas growing and that's the truth."

In a later exchange, he said, "Unfortunately a lot of people's mindsets -- who are considered to be jihadists -- that is the ultimate goal [is] to put fear and submission into the heart of every single Christian in the Middle East."

"And they're pretty effective at doing that," Robertson commented.

"Yes, unfortunately they are," Khoury replied.

Within 24 hours of the interview, Khoury received dozens of ugly emails and blog posts. Then came an eviction notice giving his church 30 days to vacate even though the rent is paid for a full year.

"In the past years that we have been here in east Jerusalem, the family that we are renting from has been pressured by extremists in the community. Why would you rent out to a church? Why would you invite the infidel into our community?" Khoury said.

It's not the first time Khoury's congregation has had to move. Extremist pressure on their Muslim landlords forced them to move twice before.

"The extremist mindset within the whole region -- Middle East as a whole and within Israel -- is not to see Christian agenda grow, [the] Christian evangelical agenda to grow," he said.

Khoury sees the way around that agenda is to put down roots.

"My heart's desire is when the 30 days [are up] -- is for the Lord to make a miracle that we can have our own place. We've found our own place, yes, we have. We found a place that's a Muslim who willing to sell us a building -- five-story building, which meets the needs of the church," he said.

Khoury wants Christians to stand with him in prayer and practically for their own building. He believes the only way to reach the community for Jesus is to be there.

*Originally aired on May 18, 2012. 

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Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl

CBN News Mideast Correspondent

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