A song, a song high above the trees with a voice as big as the sea…
This year included the voices of many people exclaiming loudly the injustices they experienced and witnessed firsthand. Consider the story of Mohammed El Kurd, who raised his voice to talk about the realities his family suffered from settlers while living in the East Jerusalem of Sheik Jarrah. I wrote about his story in the article “From Child Displaced to International Activist” on the Do Justice blog of the Christian Reformed Church. The world first learned about El Kurd’s story from a Just Vision documentary called “My Neighborhood” featuring Mohammed when he was only eleven years old. At that time, in 2012, Mohammed’s family lost a portion of their home to settlers who moved into one side of his grandmother’s house. By 2021, Mohammed’s story hit international media, where he and his sister once again faced the threat of displacement as a part of the dozens of Palestinians from the neighborhood of Sheik Jarrah being forced out by opposing claims of Jewish settlers. The activism of Mohammed and his sister Muna had such an impact that Time Magazine named them both on the list of 100 Most Influential People of 2021.
May we have ears to hear their story.
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.”
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.
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
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Today, on Holy Saturday, the sacred light or “Holy Fire”—the fire that lights the tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem—comes out into the world. The fire from the tomb is spread from candle to candle all over the church and throughout the streets of the Old City—a powerful symbol of the way that Christ’s light is spread into the world. However, many of us still feel as though we are in darkness, and that Christ’s light has not yet come to us. Read more
by Elli Atchison, World Vision
It was recently announced that 17 year old and 2014 Nobel Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai, will give $50,000 to help rebuild schools in Gaza. This generous donation is the entire award she received from the World’s Children’s Prize.
Malala is a remarkable young woman who is courageous enough to stand up for what she believes in. She proved this when she began speaking out against the Taliban’s efforts to take away the educational opportunities for girls in Pakistan. After giving speeches and posting blogs on all children’s rights to an education, Malala was targeted by the Taliban. One fateful afternoon on the way home from school, she was shot in the head.
The Taliban’s attempt to silence Malala failed miserably. Not only did she survive the attack, but her story of courage has since served as an inspiration to the world. We applaud Malala as she again steps forward to speak out for others in her generous donation. Read more
by Natalie Wisely, World Vision
After more than seven weeks of fighting, an open-ended ceasefire agreement was reached between Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and armed groups in Gaza on Tuesday, August 26.
We are thankful for the ceasefire and that children and families can rebuild their lives without the fear of violence. We know that many difficult issues are still being discussed, and hope both sides will come to an agreement that allows for humanitarian access for those affected.
Our prayer is that the current agreement will be a stepping stone toward a lasting peace. We know that coming to peaceful terms can be a long and arduous process, so we go before the Lord asking for his wisdom and guidance for the leaders of the region. We also pray for families and communities that have been affected by the conflict and are now rebuilding their lives. Read more