Israel and Palestine
by Caryn Haman, Personnel Elder
For me, there are two aspects of travel that I love the most – the preparation and anticipation and the growth in my soul when I return and reflect.
A year ago, twenty-nine members from PCJH and one from Shepherd of the Mountain Lutheran Church were finalizing details to leave April 21, 2018, to visit the Holy Land with our guide Andre Moubarak. We were blessed to walk through Joffa, float in the Dead Sea, visit a Bedouin community and ride their camels. We saw the waterfall at Ein Gedi where David hid from Saul in the caves along the mountains. We visited a site where some of the Qumran scrolls were discovered. We stopped by the Jordan River and on to Galilee. Here we were blessed to experience a storm while out on the sea in a boat. There was nothing to fear. Jesus was there! Some renewed their baptisms in the Galilee. We visited the Holy sites in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. We were moved by the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. We walked on the very crowded Via Dolorosa. We wrapped it up with Golgotha and the Garden Tomb which was a beautiful humble place.
This was the tour part of the Journey. The Journey took on greater meaning when we arrived home and found we were each spiritually changed – transformed. We had been students of the Bible but in fact our eyes and ears were opened to how much we still needed to learn. Andre frequently told us to “go deeper.” We heard him, but it didn’t fully sink in until we reached home and began to reflect. Many of us began to read what we could get our hands on about topics, like Understanding Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, a book by Kenneth Bailey (who, by the way, Pastor Tammy knows from one of her travels). Many read Jimmy Carter’s book, Peace Not Apartheid. To learn more about the Palestinians some read The Lemon Tree, or Blood Brothers.
We also came home with heavy hearts. There are only 2% of Christians now living in what is called Israel. This is sad since this is the birthplace of Christianity. 96% of the current Christians are Palestinian. We heard reports directly from some of these people. They are living under severe oppression as most of them live under Israeli Rule and are subject to Israel’s laws and rule. We are concerned because we want Peace for all yet there can be no Peace without Justice. As disciples of Jesus, seeking peace and justice is part of our discipleship as we await the coming of His Kingdom on Earth.
We encourage Christians to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. We encourage Christians to read and learn more about the clash between Palestinians and Israelis and pray for all those on both sides who deeply yearn for a peaceful solution. Pray that you might feel called to join another trip to the Holy Land in the future, that you may have new eyes to see and a heart that hears.
Join Caryn for her evening class, The Rock, the Road and the Rabbi, to view the Word in the context of the Holy Land and to explore scripture through ancient rabbinical teachings. Wednesday evenings at 5:15pm in Genesis Room.