Bible Society leads tributes to murdered Palestinian worker
Bible Society leaders have paid tribute to a prominent Palestinian Christian who was killed in the Gaza Strip after being abducted near his home.
Rami Ayyad, 31, manager of the Bible Society bookshop in Gaza, was kidnapped on Saturday near his home in Gaza City. His body was later found elsewhere in the city.
It is not known who is responsible for the killing. The attack comes six months after the Palestinian Bible Society bookshop was bombed, causing significant damage.
Mr Ayyad leaves a widow, Pauline, and two children.
James Catford, Chief Executive of the British and Foreign Bible Society, visited the Palestinian Bible Society in May. He said, "The staff at the Palestinian Bible Society work against a constant backdrop of violence and conflict.
"They face the threat of attack daily. But they are dedicated to demonstrating the Bible's life-changing message to the Palestinian people."
He added: "Rami was no different, and the bookshop he ran was an oasis in Gaza City. His death is a tragedy, and I am deeply sorry to hear the news. My sympathies and prayers are with his family and the Bible Society team there."
Members of the Palestinian Bible Society are in shock at the death of their colleague.
Labib Madanat, Chief Executive of the Palestinian Bible Society, said, "Rami was the most gentle member of the team, the ever-smiling one. He was the face of our Bible shop, always receiving visitors and serving them as Jesus would.
"Please pray for Rami's family, for the team and all Christ-followers in Gaza. We know that he was martyred for his faith in Christ."
Mr Catford is due to visit the Palestinian Bible Society later this month, when he will deliver more than 1,500 messages of encouragement penned by Bible Society supporters here.
The letters, which were written as part of an appeal to raise money for the work of the Palestinian Bible Society, include notes of thanks, encouragement and Bible verses.
The Palestinian Bible Society's activities include running a university-based community centre, providing materials to mothers in refugee camps so they can make and sell crafts, and performing biblical-themed puppet shows to scores of schoolchildren across the region.
Mr Catford added, "We have already received hundreds of messages of support to deliver to Palestine.
"But if more people want to support the Bible Society team in the light of Rami's death - including writing letters - it will show them that we care, and that we stand shoulder to shoulder with Christians around the world."
Messages of encouragement and support can be sent to:
Bible Society, Stonehill Green, Westlea, Swindon SN5 7DG