Today’s blog is more a record of events than reflective thoughts. With so much input, both visual and heard, minds are struggling to assimilate all the data and emotions felt over the past days and how to link this to our faith.
Our second Sunday in the Holy Land started with worship at the Anglican Cathedral of St George the Martyr in East Jerusalem. We attended the Arabic speaking service at which the Bishop, Rt Rev’d Suheil Dawani presided over communion. The Road to Emmaus reading reminded me of the journey we have made over the last few days, sometimes not recognising Jesus in situations we have encountered.
Worshipping at the service were two Swedish Ecumenical Accompaniers from the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel. We had met two other Ecumenical Accompaniers during our trip to Hebron and were greatly impressed with their work. To find out more about their monitoring work see www.quaker.org.uk . EAPPI received a grant from Commitment for Life in 2008.
Our meeting with the Bishop added another piece to the jigsaw as he spoke of the community work in which the church is involved in Syria, Jordon and Lebanon. One such institution is a hospital in Gaza that suffered much during the recent crisis. Lunch with other members of the community helped in further understanding of day to day restrictions caused by the occupation.
Following the theme of the role of the church in Israel today we met the Dean of St George’s College, Revd Stephen Need. He shared with us some of the work of the college. Two members of the group had attended courses in the past.
Another meeting beckoned so it was off to B’tselem, an Israeli human rights organisation. They record instances of human rights violations. These are collected by nine people living in the West Bank and two in Gaza. Their statistics and data are respected and used by many groups to take cases of violations forward. Recently they trained over hundred Palestinians to film their daily lives and in so doing have come across incidents of violations that have been passed to the media and diplomats. Commitment for Life Churches support the video work of B’tselem through Christian Aid.
The day concluded with another meeting, again with a URC connection. ‘Kids for Hope’ and ‘Youth for Hope’ are two projects supported by the URC. Indeed a group visited Windermere in recent years. This year, as in the previous two years. Youth Workers will help young Palestinian Christians develop leadership and confidence building skills. With a diminishing Christian presence and the pressure put on young people as a minority, these skills will help them be part of the future of Jerusalem. We must hope and pray for that future.
We have been reminded often on this trip to go home and tell the stories of those we have met. There are many pieces still missing from that jigsaw but we can share what we have seen and heard of those living under occupation.
In the UN Deheisha Refugee Camp in Bethlehem we came across this poem. It is written on the wall of the community space We end our blog with it.
If I could change all the world
I’d dismantle all the bombs
I’d feet all the hungry
I’d shelter all the homeless
I’d make all people free
I can’t dismantle all the bombs
I can’t feed all the hungry
I can’t shelter all the homeless
I can’t make all people free
I can’t because there is only one of me.
When I have grown and I am strong
I will find many more of me
We will dismantle all the bombs
We will feed the hungry
We will shelter all the homeless
We will make all the people free
We will change the world
Me and my friends, together at last
Jojo – Aged 11
On the wall of the U.N. building at Deheisha Refugee Camp, Bethlehem
Members of the group will be available to speak about the many experiences from the trip. If you are interested in having a speaker please email [email protected]