Daily Heroes in a Troubled Land
By Cathy Nobles
Origionally posted in June 30, 2008
As you begin to read this report, I thank you for your faithful prayers for our trip in June. It was an exceptional time of insights. I hope you enjoy!
If you follow the Israel/Palestine news, life in the ME is frequently unsettled with trauma, but underneath these headlines are many different heroes at work every day bringing hope. Many of these people are the friends that we have made through the last ten years. So I have returned from the trip with renewed hope in seeing what determined men and women can do when they seek peace with their neighbors. Here are a few of the highlights of our heroic Israeli and Palestinian friends who need our support and prayers.
- Daoud Nasser and the Tent of Nations: The Nasser family is continuing their battle to stay on their land near Hebron. Their property and the surrounding Palestinian villages will over the next year be totally surrounded by an 18 foot wall, and they will be required to have permits to enter or leave the area. Surrounding them are Israeli settlements that continue to grow. As you walk onto the land, the Nassers have placed this sign on their fence: “We refuse to be enemies”.
Daoud shared with us some of their recent activities such as a fooball/soccer sports day on the property with athletics playing together from different backgrounds. These youth camps are a part of their ongoing program at the Tent of Nations. We walked around the property to see all the new additions such as the cave that the Next Wave DTS team had dug on the property that will be turned into a chapel when completed. There are also plans for more crops, camps and training sessions that aim at teaching people how to live in peace with their neighbors. This Christian family continues to win the attention of their Muslim neighbors and others who see them serving others with joy and determination.
If you want to read more see their website: Also if you want to read more about their area and Nahalin, the Palestinian village near them, see the following: www.tentofnatioms.org; http://www.un.org/unrwa/emergency/barrier/profiles/nahalin.html
- Bethlehem Bible College: Since I first visited these extraordinary friends in 1999, I have heard Bishara Awad speak of his dream to build a second training building for their campus. The shell of this building is now completed, and they are praying for the finances for the completion of this building. It is inspiring to see in the hopelessness of Bethlehem, the building of a place that will serve the next generation. Wherever you go in Bethlehem, and you mention these men and women, you hear about the daily heroic work they do to live out their life of Christ on the West Bank. Their website is: www.bethlehembiblecollege.edu
- Rami Elhanan and the Parent’s Circle. We had lunch with Rami in Jerusalem and caught up with him on the work of the Parent’s Circle. The Parent’s Circle recently developed a popular TV show that profiles both Israeli and Palestinian families. The show has been very popular and controversial since they are talking about many taboo issues of prejudice that block the road to peace.
He also shared with us the work being done by Combatants for Peace, a group started by Rami’s son and other former soldiers. They are publicly refusing to serve further in the military due to the ongoing human rights violations that they feel undermine the Jewish history of a people committed to the highest values of human life. www.theparentscircle.org; www.combatantsforpeace.org
There are many stories on both these websites that show how human hearts can keep moving towards forgiveness despite the loss of family members due to violence. They are deeply inspiring and good food for thought about how faithfully am I living out the message of Jesus’ love for my enemies.
- Fatima One of my RW team members, Erika introduced me to new friend, Fatima, a Muslim Bedouin woman whose life has benefitted her whole village, which is located out in the Judean Hills near the Dead Sea. Fatima’s story is remarkable. Her father was the chief of the tribe and became a famous parliamentarian during the Jordanian rule of the West Bank. He wanted to see all of his daughters and sons educated, and so all were sent to a Lutheran school in Bethlehem. His mother had once been given sanctuary there in order to raise her only son (Fatima’s father). Although Fatima left school at 16, she says that the humanitarian work she now does is based on the values of her Christian education which undergirds her Islamic faith. She works tirelessly for the handicapped in her village and in Bethlehem. One of her daughters has severe physical disabilities, and Fatima was instrumental in seeing that she was well-educated and able to lead as normal a life as possible.
These are just a small sample of the Christians, Jews and Muslims that we met during this trip, and for me, they are the heroes and the hope of this region. Each gives sacrificially of their talents in order to see that a vision of loving their neighbor is further developed. It is always challenging to watch and to listen to how each one is walking a path that calls them to be a vision of God’s love despite the hostilities that face them daily.