One of the most stunning things to me about living here is that despite the injustice, oppression, and hardship the people face, there is still so much life. Life goes on, in spite of the occupation. There is joy, and love, and laughter, and dance, and music, and celebration. And make no mistake about it: Palestinians know how to have a good time.
Last weekend, I was invited to come along with my host family to one of these celebrations: the baptism of the youngest member of the family, Zain. I have to admit, part of the reason I was so excited about this invitation was that many Greek Orthodox families still practice full immersion baptism of infants, something we Lutherans don’t do much of. My spirits were cowed only the slightest bit when I learned “just his hair” would be dipped.
I asked where this baptism would take place – in the Greek Orthodox Church in Beit Sahour, near where my host family lives? My host mom looked at me like I was a little crazy. “No,” she responded, “in the Church of the Nativity.” Her tone indicated that this was an obvious and totally unremarkable fact. In my head I thought, oh of course, just going to go baptize cousin Zain at the church that stands on the location of Jesus’ birth, no biggie. Read more
This past Thursday, a few of the Jerusalem/West Bank Young Adults in Global Mission (JWB YAGM) and I were invited to gather at the Tent of Nations, a 100 acre farm just outside Bethlehem owned by the Nassar family. That night, the family received the 2017 World Methodist Peace Award, honoring their creativity, consistency, and courage in peacemaking and non-violent resistance.
A view of the Judean Hills from the Tent of Nations
The 100 acres of land that comprises the Tent of Nations farm was purchased by the Nassar family in 1916 and since then has been used to grow grapes, olives, almonds, and many other crops. The land remained in the Nassar family’s possession throughout the rule of the Ottomans, the British, and the Israelis. In 1991, however, the Israeli government declared the Nassar farm and the land surrounding it “Israeli State Land,” and began their efforts to confiscate the land. Since then, the family has continuously struggled to maintain possession of their familial land. (You can read more about their legal struggles here.) Today, the farm is surrounded by the Gush Etzion Settlement Bloc. You can see Israeli settlements from almost every vista on the farm. According to the Geneva Convention and the United Nations, these settlements were built in contradiction to international law. Read more
The documentary As It Happened: Ongoing Stories of the Nakba follows four Palestinian students from Alrowwad Cultural and Arts Society who, along with retired Australian drama teacher Ray Goodlass, create a series of small plays about their own personal experiences with the Nakba in the Occupied Territories of Palestine. It is both heartbreaking and hilarious, but above all this small documentary articulates very real stories of ordinary young men and women who have lived through incredible difficulties.
Alrowwad is located in Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, in the West Bank. Alrowwad, or “Beautiful Resistance” is an independent, dynamic community-based not-for-profit organisation which strives to empower women and children through targeted and creative programs using non-violent means. To “live for Palestine rather than die for Palestine.”
The documentary has been nominated for several awards and is the debut film by Sara Aurorae. Sara is a senior program manager working with young refugees and has a masters degree in human rights law. She has studied and worked extensively on human rights for refugees and is a peace activist.
Thank you for the work of individuals like Sara Aurorae and the energy they invest in sharing the lives of people living in challenging situations around the world. Please touch the hearts and minds of everyone who sees this documentary and encourage them to work towards justice and peace in their own lives and in the lives of others.
CMEP is very thankful for the writers who contribute Spiritual Resources. However, CMEP does not necessarily agree with all the positions of our writers, and they do not speak on CMEP’s behalf.
I can relate to the prophet Elijah, when he stood in the wilderness waiting for God. The story, found in 1 Kings 19:1-18, tells of the unusual way that God met him. Having just helped Elijah defeat Queen Jezebel’s spiritual team in a “made for TV showdown”, we would expect God to communicate in another dramatic way.
God sent powerful winds, a ground trembling earthquake, and a roaring fire that all got Elijah’s attention. But He was not in any of these. It was actually in a final, gentle whisper that the Lord spoke.
My first trip to the Holy Land was a little like this. I was on the typical pilgrimage with my church. I was so excited to “walk in the footsteps of Jesus” and actually see all the places I had always read about in the Bible. And like Elijah, I too, was praying that God would reveal Himself to me. Read more
Ten years ago, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish lost three daughters, Bessan, Mayar, and Aya, and one niece, Noor, to an Israeli tank shelling of his home in Gaza. It happened just before he was scheduled to do a phone interview on an Israeli TV station, which then broadcasted his grief and cry for help in the wake of horrific violence. Read more
If you were aware that there was an issue in your society regarding the arrest and detention of children, how would you respond? Palestinian human rights lawyer, Farah Bayadsi, has decided that this is a critical issue she cannot walk away from. Growing up near Haifa in a town called Baqa al-Gharbiyye, Farah grew up a citizen of Israel with Arabic as her mother tongue. She studied for her Bachelor of Law degree at Shaarei Mishpat College in Hod Hasharon near Tel Aviv, where she became aware of the growing gap between the theoretical aspect of law and its application; that what is on paper is not necessarily what is practiced, especially regarding criminal law and political arrest cases. This led her to move to Jerusalem to pursue her LLM in International Law and Human Rights at Hebrew University. Read more
Sarah Linder is a collector of stories. A current resident of Israel originally from Denmark, Sarah was also raised in France, Switzerland, and Belgium. With a Danish mother and Israeli father, she brings a unique and multilingual perspective to storytelling that has helped build bridges within Israeli society. After moving to Israel in 2006, Sarah developed her interest in storytelling through her undergraduate studies in Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy, at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC). She then pursued a Master’s degree at Tel Aviv University in Middle Eastern History. Through her studies, she noticed that most dialogues concerning policy-making was male-dominated, with a distinct lack of a female perspective. Read more
While staying with them, Jesus ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me;for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Acts 2:1-4
Before ascending into heaven, Jesus told his disciples to remain in Jerusalem, for it was there they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Shortly after his ascension the day of Pentecost came, and the Holy Spirit descended, first like a violent wind, then as divided tongues of fire. As each tongue rested on them, they began to speak in other languages that were not their own. While this is miraculous in and of itself, it is also a profound statement of the power of the Holy Spirit to allow us to understand those who are other, those who are not like us. To speak another language is to catch a glimpse into another person’s mind.Read more
On March 23, I had the opportunity to join over 7,000 runners of all ages gathered in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, awaiting the signal to cross the starting line to begin the 6th annual Palestine Marathon. Established in support of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that, “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State,” the route of the Palestine Marathon begins in front of the Church of the Nativity and runs through two refugee camps. In order to demonstrate the restrictions to freedom of movement within the West Bank for Palestinians in their daily lives, runners journey alongside the eight-meter-high separation barrier and around the guard towers posted in various parts of the wall’s route. Read more
Then Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day,and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Luke 24:44-47
Hallelujah! He is risen! He is risen indeed! Throughout this Lenten season we have walked with Jesus as he performed miracles, taught in parables, and wept over the city of Jerusalem. We have also taken a closer look at the city of Jerusalem today—why it is considered holy by the three Abrahamic religions, and its contemporary political situation. It is only fitting that we reflect on Jesus’ command after his resurrection, when he appeared to his disciples. Read more