JERUSALEM SUMMIT ASIA V
By Etgar Lefkovits
21 July 2008
In an attempt to stem a tide of rising Islamic extremism across the globe, Israeli politicians and academics reached out to a group of Asian evangelical religious and political leaders on Monday, in an increasingly more global Judeo-Christian alliance against radical Islam.
Rev. Eddie Villanueva and Rev. Richard Howell meet with MK Benny Elon yesterday at the Jerusalem Summit Asia.
Slideshow: Pictures of the week The fifth annual Jerusalem Summit Asia, which was held in a Jerusalem hotel, brought together members of parliament from the Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus, conservative Israeli academics and thinkers, and 150 political and religious leaders from the Philippines, India, Japan, China and Taiwan.
The event comes amid burgeoning relations between Israel and the largely supportive evangelical Christian community around the world, and at a time when the number of evangelicals continues to rise in Asia.
"This conference has further strengthened our relationship with Israel and inspired us to disseminate historical facts for all nations of the world - especially evangelical churches - about the biblical role of Israel in fulfilling God's grand plan for the ages," said Rev. Eddie Villanueva of the Philippines, the founder and spiritual director of Jesus is Lord Church Worldwide, which has a membership of over four million churches and chapters in 39 countries.
He said the conference organizers were planning the formation of a "biblical solidarity movement" promoting freedom of worship in every country of the world.
"Why should Christians in Muslim countries be second-class citizens?" asked Rev. Dr. Richard Howell, the general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India.
The Summit Asia organizers see their efforts as a way to bring future support for Israel from a part of the world growing in international influence.
"As the number of evangelicals in Asia continues to increase, and Asia is rising as a world power, it is a very timely initiative for Asian Christians to undertake a Judeo-Christian endeavor to forge a future strong Israel-Asian alliance," said Marisa Albert, the meeting's organizer and executive director of Jerusalem Summit Asia, a branch of the Jerusalem Summit - a conservative Jerusalem-based NGO that debuted over five years ago and puts on the annual event. Albert is also the chairperson of the Jerusalem East Gate Foundation, a Jerusalem-based evangelical organization that promotes support for Israel through Asian pilgrimages and educational tours in the Holy Land.
"The unifying center for all evangelicals is Jerusalem," said Dmitry Radyshevsky, executive director of the Jerusalem Summit. "Besides, they understand that radical Islam is an equal danger for Christians as it is for Jews."
"I would rather be politically incorrect and biblically correct," said Christian Allies Caucus chairman MK Benny Elon (NU-NRP) who spearheaded Israel's ties with the evangelical world during his tenure as tourism minister.
"Jerusalem Summit V has brought Asian leaders and politicians to Israel in order to reinforce their commitment to the security of the State of Israel and the well being of its people during our 60th anniversary," said caucus director Josh Reinstein.
"Christianity is on the rise in Asia, and Asian Christians will become a very important ally for Israel in the 21st century," he said.
In years past, similar conferences have been held in Asia in the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore and Japan.