No Zoom Fatigue for Revived Baptist Church in Gaza

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COVID-19 provides a silver lining for dwindling community of Palestinian evangelicals, whose now-electronic fellowship brought 100 together for Christmas.

Zoom fatigue is real. But so is Zoom revival.

While thankful for video technology, many congregations worldwide have grown weary of COVID-19 lockdowns as they worship from their screens instead of in their sanctuaries.

But under political lockdown since 2007, Gaza Baptist Church in the Palestinian territories has used Zoom to experience reunion.

“Nothing is humorous about Corona, but we see God’s sense of humor,” said Hanna Massad, the former pastor now residing in Connecticut.

“This painful virus gave us fellowship.”

Christians have been an integral part of Gaza for almost two millennia, declining slowly over the past century due to political and economic difficulties. But emigration increased rapidly since Hamas took power—followed by a joint Israel-Egypt blockade—and today less than 1,000 Christians remain in the 25-mile coastal strip.

It comes as little surprise, then, that Gaza Baptist—which drew about 200 weekly participants in the early 2000s—has now been reduced to about a dozen.

But like the rest of the world accommodating coronavirus disruptions in 2020, Gazans jumped on Zoom—for school, for work, for just about everything. Massad, the former pastor who left Gaza in 2007, started organizing Zoom services in June as a way to encourage the community.

The small congregation welcomed the initiative, since they had been without a pastor since last February. Once everyone was accustomed to the new format, Massad began sharing the Zoom link with the diaspora. Now Gazan Christians, and others with meaningful links to the community, join in from Europe, America, the Middle East, and as far as Australia.

Virtual church is what one might expect: a few songs, prayer requests, …

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