THE FRUIT OF AFFLICTION
Dunham does not have any bitterness about the attacks she and her son, who goes by his middle name, Blake, have endured. In fact, she compares her situation to that of the biblical character Joseph, who said that in his affliction, God made him fruitful.
"When our house was burned down, it was great because God told us His vision was for the whole city, not just a single church in a refugee camp," she says. "So now we have church in a public place, an Arabian wedding hall.
"And when it fills up, there might be close to 600 people in there....Not that many people come every week; there's a couple hundred-maybe 300. But there are times when they all fill up and come. And they come from the refugee camps, Jihad comes, Hamas comes, Infata comes, and they want to hear the words of grace.
"What are we preaching? We're preaching the gospel!" she continues. "Right now there is a move of God, it's a sovereign move of God in Jericho....[The people] want to enter our kingdom, and they're coming in. They're coming in rapidly."
Dunham says she has lost track of how many they've baptized. They don't keep records or use the word "convert" because of the potential danger to new believers.
But "people are coming from all over" to her Living Bread International Church, she says. They are also watching her television program, Door of Hope that is broadcast from a cave on the Mount of Temptation and currently goes into 133 Arab nations.
"You know what happened?" Dunham asks with regard to the bombings and other persecution she's endured. "We've been blown right into the glory of God!
"Eighty percent of our church is there because the Spirit of God showed up in a dream or a vision and told them to get down to the church," she explains. "They're coming because of the Spirit of God."
One little girl told her recently, "Jesus came to me and told me to bring my mother, my father and my brothers," Dunham says. "The Father is building the church."
It has to be Him, she claims, because she couldn't do it in her flesh. "When God sent me there, I didn't know the language. He sent the most foolish thing. I didn't know anything about the culture. But I went because I do know one thing: I know the voice of My God, and God said, 'I'm going to do this now.'"
Dunham attributes the move of God in Jericho in part to the response she and Blake, had to the affliction. "What we've learned in our affliction is to worship," she says. "When our car was burning up, we said, 'Put on the worship music.' We went outside, lifted our hands [in praise].
"It took a few fires-it took a little bit of affliction-to catch on to what the Spirit of God wanted us to do, but when we started embracing it, and when we started counting it all joy, our spirits soared, and we were pushed into such a deep place in the Spirit, and I feel the atmosphere started changing. We started to see great miracles."
As proof, she offers, "I had every one of the police officers ask me for Jesus videos and Bibles." She has also seen many miracles of healing, including deaf ears being opened and leprous limbs being restored, and of salvation.
"The Arabs couldn't believe we didn't run," Dunham says, "and they have seen us in our affliction, stay." It hasn't been easy, she admits, but she was determined to remain because God told her to "ride out" the persecution.
"The Lord said, 'Karen, I want them to see by witness that you are willing to lay down your life for them.'"
Dunham, who wanted nothing to do with the church growing up has proved in the last five years that she is willing. And every attempt on her life has served only to increase her commitment to the work God gave her among the Palestinians. She now provides not only food, clothes and Bibles but also toys, furniture, soap and other supplies to poor families, nursing homes and hospitals throughout the West Bank and in Israel. She also runs a food-stamp program that helps feed around 5,000 families each month.
"What we're doing is, we're loving on these Arabs," she says.
Dunham's loving the Arabs has made her name a household word in Jericho, and now not even the Muslims want her to leave. One young mother from the Aqabat Jaber refugee camp told the San Francisco Chronicle, "My husband is a policeman, but he has received no wages for months. I don't know how we would survive without Karen."
Dunham believes the transformation God promised her through the Catholic priest has begun. And she has no doubt that one day Jericho will again be totally devoted to God.
"We're gonna see it in our lifetime that this great city will be called 'The City of Our Lord,'" she says. And she'll give up her own life, if necessary, to make it happen.
For more information on Karen Dunham's ministry, go to livingbreadchurch.com. If you would like to support this ministry, send tax-deductible gifts to Christian Life Missions, Attn: Living Bread International Church, P.O. Box 952248, Lake Mary, FL 32795-2248.
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