(Photo: AP Images / Tara Todras-Whitehill)
Two of America's biggest evangelical Christian broadcasters have stationed cameras on a hill overlooking Jerusalem, ready to cover the return of Jesus Christ from the Mount of Olives as predicted in the Bible, should any such event occur soon.
Texas-based Daystar Television Network was first to install a 24/7 camera from its terrace overlooking the Mount of Olives, and now Costa Mesa-based Trinity Broadcasting Network has bought the building next door, allowing it the same opportunity. The Mount of Olives, a mountain ridge east of Jerusalem, is rooted both in Jewish and Christian traditions, and is where Jesus is said to have preached to his disciples and later ascended to heaven, according to Acts chapter one.
The studios also plan on using their foothold in Jerusalem to teach the message of Jesus to the local Jewish population – and encourage Messianic Jews, who believe Jesus is the Christ, to minister to others.
"The main thing we want to do is help sponsor what we call Messianic Jews, or Jews that have received Jesus Christ as their Messiah," said TBN co-founder Paul Crouch, according to the Los Angeles Times. "We want to do some Hebrew language programs to reach out to Jews and entice them to read the word of God and become what we call a completed Jew."
However, Orthodox Jewish people are said to not take too kindly to their evangelism plans in Jerusalem.
"One of the things I find offensive is that they are bragging about their missionary work," said Ellen Horowitz, research director at Jewish Israel, which tracks and counteracts Christian missionaries in Israel. "They're actually very in-your-face about it."
"Our people have been through the wringer already with either persecution or assimilation," she added. "Now people finally get to a Jewish nation and someone pushes a copy of the New Testament in Hebrew at them. A sensitive line is being crossed."
Christian groups, such as a prayer center that operates near Mt. Zion run by American missionary Rick Ridings, a nephew of Paul Crouch, have argued, however, that Christianity needs more of a voice in Israel.
"Christianity is not represented in Israel as well as it could," Crouch said. "We hope to equalize that and give Christianity a better platform."