by Elli Atchison, World Vision
Happy New Year! I love the fresh start of a new calendar. It holds 365 opportunities to pursue self-improvement and life’s ambitions. There are many things I want to accomplish in 2015. Like many of you, my resolutions include goals for organization and a healthier lifestyle. I want to travel to new places and make some amazing memories with my family. However, my list has one item that might not be on yours. I plan to eat an elephant called peace.
Before you get the wrong idea, please give me the chance to explain. I happen to adore elephants. I have observed them on safari Zimbabwe, and marveled at the truly amazing creation of God that they are. I am not promoting poaching them in the wild. I am speaking of the old adage “The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” Of course this wisdom is not in the Bible and did not come from Solomon or Jesus. But, I think we can still apply it to the Holy Land in 2015.
These words are obviously an analogy for a HUGE goal that seems to be overwhelming and impossible. Working for peace and justice in the Holy Land can often feel like this. It is something that has been on my heart since my first visit three years ago. I wanted to do something to make a difference, but I just didn’t know where to begin. Maybe you share this sentiment, too?
I have found my starting point with World Vision. For me, this organization offers a variety of significant opportunities to work for peace in Israel and Palestine. First, is their program of child sponsorship. For just a small monthly commitment I can give hope to a child in living in the West Bank or Gaza. Not only does this give the opportunity to build a personal relationship with my child and her family, it promotes specific community development projects that benefit all families in the area.
World Vision has also taught me how to advocate for peace in the political arena. With the advocacy team, I have visited my elected officials in Washington, D.C. and voiced my concern for my country’s support for the people of the region. I learned that constituents get some respect when they show up and speak up. I plan to do more of this in 2015.
Finally, World Vision gives me a platform that I can use to help inform others. In the spring, I will be joining a group of women to tour the Holy Land. This will be the first visit for many of them. This trip will give them the opportunity to see for themselves what life is like for Palestinians and Israelis. I am confident that they will come away with a more holistic understanding of the situation. Hopefully, then, these ladies will also share in responsibility to work for peace and reconciliation in the future. I believe that travel is truly one of the best forms of education and diplomacy.
There are many fine organizations that are diligently working to bring hope, peace, and justice to the Holy Land. In this New Year, I would strongly encourage you to find one and really commit to it. Get to know the people working in the organization. Volunteer your time to promote their efforts. Give money to help support important projects that make a difference in the lives of those who need your help.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the big goal to bring peace to the Holy Land. Simply choose one worthy organization and support it fully—bit by bit, day by day, prayer by prayer. There are many recipes for this elephant called peace. We all just have to pick up our forks and start eating—one bite at a time.
We thank You for the promise of Your guiding presence in the New Year. We know that the love we feel for the Holy Land cannot even come close to Yours. This sacred land belongs to You, and You alone.
And all the people that call this land home are so precious to you. The heartbreaking memories of last year’s war and violence are still fresh in our minds. The need for peace has never been greater, and its reality feels very far away as we enter into 2015.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to work for this harvest of peace. We give You our prayers, and we give You our promise to pursue peace in this New Year. In return we ask for Your blessing.
Open our hearts and open our minds to Your great thoughts and Your better ways. Order our steps and remove obstacles from our path. Your Word gives us hope that the small efforts that we make together will be multiplied for Your glory. Let us not grow weary in doing good works, but take each day as a fresh opportunity to be Your hands and feet in serving others in love.
Let this New Year be the one that brings the peace of Your kingdom to the Holy Land.
Join us in the Holy Land! This April, World Vision is hosting women from around the United States on an 8-day tour of the land where Jesus lived, breathed, and did ministry. Though this trip is specifically for women, we take several trips throughout the year in which men and women are invited. Contact Natalie Wisely, World Vision’s Advocacy Coordinator- Middle East, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and registration details.