Area: 20,700 sq km
A further 7,540 sq km of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights have been controlled by Israel since 1967.
Population: 7,285,033 Annual Growth: 1.71%
Official language: Hebrew, Arabic. Numerous immigrant languages from all over the world are spoken Languages: 48 All languages
Largest Religion: Jewish
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Major outreach challenges:
a) The ultra-Orthodox Haredi are only 10% of the population, but they see themselves as the preservers of true Jewishness in Israel. They maintain a policy of political engagement with cultural detachment. More than 50% live below the poverty line. Strong religious legalism makes them quite difficult to reach. Pray that many more of these modern Pharisees may become like Nicodemus, a process that is already happening.
b) Jews from the former Soviet Union and Poland are now the largest component of the population. They have changed Israel and are more receptive than most groups to the gospel, already comprising the majority of Messianic Jews. Many still need to be evangelized.
c) The Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel) have become a disillusioned, largely impoverished urban underclass since their immigration to Israel a decade ago. They number around 120,000; among them are fewer than 2,000 Messianic believers.
d) The Arabs. Over 90% are Muslim, yet they also comprise the majority of Christians in the Holy Land. They are being slowly squeezed out by a combination of Israeli discrimination, Islamist persecution and international ignorance and apathy toward their plight.
e) The Druze community (120,000) in Israel as well as in the West Bank and the Golan Heights. They are very closed to outsiders, but a movement to Jesus is beginning and accelerating. Opposition from within the Druze community toward Druze followers of Jesus will be intense.
f) Guest workers. Since the Palestinian workforce was reduced for security reasons, a number of Romanian, Chinese, Filipino, Ghanaian and Nigerian workers took their place, and, more recently, Sudanese refugees have come in through Egypt. The Israeli government is cracking down on illegal workers, but there are a substantial number of Christians among them.
g) Young people and children. They face security threats and an uncertain future, irreligious attitudes, New Age concepts and many cults and deviant groups seeking to win the hearts of the younger generation of Israelis. The children of poorer immigrants face intense disadvantages, both economically and educationally.
The Protestant missionary force is impossible to enumerate, due to security concerns and the presence of so many who enter as tentmakers. It certainly exceeds 1,000. At times the hardness of the ground and unfulfilled visions can lead to disillusionment, but Israeli society is generally quite open. Many are searching for real solutions to the uncertainty, conflicts and suffering. Years of sowing seeds and breaking down long-held prejudices against Christianity are now bearing fruit. Foreign Christians must work to encourage and support the growing local congregations and ministries who are increasingly reaching out. Literature ministry is another area of fruitful contribution. The Ministry of the Interior often makes visas difficult to obtain or renew for Christian workers.
For an additional 8 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Israel.