As I reflect on my time in Beit Sahour, Palestine, many images, emotions, and specific experiences come to mind. The time with my host family is something that will eternally be cherished. Hearing the stories of families divided by the wall, of life cut short by a senseless bullet, the physiological trauma of children who have witnessed their father being beaten or brutally murdered, and homes that are destroyed for the sake of ‘security’.
To cap our time in Palestine we went around as a group to reflect on our high and low points. What I’m sure can be repeated for most of the group is that what is most painful is also what’s most enlightening and a time of great growth.
Low: day in Hebron- indescribable, how check-points and the wall breed terrorism, how long the effects of conflicts last, frustration in the international community, where is the faith? where is their hope? such a long list of questions….when will peace reach this place?
High: I’m more than ever thankful that I’m a follower of Christ- those who follow Jesus will have an abundance of hope and love, God’s love is border less, there are glimpses of hope in every corner, I greatly appreciate the time getting to know others in the group and building lasting friendships….
The list of highs and lows could continue for ages.
Over the past three weeks, several themes have stood out to me. Time– I’m amazed at how God knows exactly what you need when you need it…an encouraging word from a friend, a smile from a Palestinian girl, an email from a friend. Land– This small patch of land is the cause of great struggle and tormoil…the whole world is watching. Yet, there is more to this land than the tension between Israel and Palestine. Systematic Violence– Although recognizable not all, settlers are teaching their children to pick up a stone and use them as a means to intimidate innocent Palestinian children…these children have lost their innocence. God’s Covenant- There are two covenants God made with the world- the first to the Jewish people and the second covenant is within Christ Jesus. How can I share with those who believe in the first covenant that God’s greatest commandment is to love one another and that no material possessions- whether it be land, water, or natural resources- is greater than the sacredness of humanity. After all, what’s living on both sides of the wall are people- it’s as simple as this.
Well, I don’t want to sound too depressing but each one of you should know that I’m learning a tremendous amount of information surrounding this conflict, and am growing in my understanding of God’s love, myself, and the ways in which God’s hand is at work in this region.
To end, I encourage each on of you take out your Bible (however dusty they may be) and read Ephesians 2:14…
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…”