By MICHAEL BROWN Published on May 31, 2018 

My time at the Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) conference in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, was both wonderful and terrible, powerful and painful. As I said to the leaders face to face: The people were even warmer than I expected. Their positions were even worse than I expected.

Regardless of who is right or wrong, the deep chasms that exist can only be bridged through prayer, humility and forthright dialogue. By God’s grace, I am committed to continuing the journey with my newfound Palestinian Christian friends. (For those unfamiliar with the controversies surrounding Christ at the Checkpoint, see here.)

A Warm Welcome

Let me start with the positive, which was very positive.

I was received with open arms and without restriction by the Christian leaders there. They could not have made me feel more welcome, and they truly honored me as a respected brother in the Lord. As for the conference attendees, about 300 in number, they went out of their way to thank me for coming as the lone, public voice of dissent.

The message I brought was quite intense — although bathed deeply with love, which was apparently quite evident — bringing a very public and open challenge. Yet I received applause and even hugs rather than jeers and scorn.

The conference leaders made it clear that their greatest desire is to honor our Lord. I believe and hope that they now count me as a friend.

As difficult as it was for me to bring the message, it must have been difficult for the audience to hear it. Yet hear it they did ...