October 2, 2009
We have had a fruitful and eventful summer. The Lord has truly blessed us with all of our many activities. One of our most impacting events was our Family Leadership conference. Here is a closer look at the one-week life-changing seminar.
More than 20 Israeli and Palestinian community and congregational leaders, together with their families spent one-week in Germany for Musalaha’s Family Leadership Conference. This conference fulfilled Musalaha’s vision to equip and empower leaders from Israeli and Palestinian communities to form leadership skills and become reconcilers in their societies. Musalaha trains these leaders together with their families because Israeli and Palestinian societies are structured around the family unit. As the family grows together as reconcilers they can together impact their societies for change.
The Family Leadership Conference serves as a starting point for networking opportunities as people begin to establish relationships with those from the “other side.” The language of “us versus them” is deconstructed to provide an open space for a new definition of “we.”
The conference lasted from August 14 to the 21 and convened at the Langensteinbacher Hoehe Bibelkonferenzzentrum. This secluded Bible Conference Center provided an ideal location and ample opportunities for outdoor activities which allowed the participants time and space to process and cultivate thoughts and emotions. It was through Eckhard Maier’s servant-leadership, our families not only formed close relationships, but also learned servanthood through his humble example.
Every second day the theory and praxis of Musalaha was presented through teachings, workshops, and family interactions. Musalaha Director Salim J. Munayer and Israeli Pastor Oded Shoshani served as the teachers and leaders of the conference. The week’s events were divided into different segments emerging from the theory and praxis. One section was devoted to building relationships between families from a different background, centering on the theme in Ephesians 2 of breaking down walls in order to create new identities. Another lecture presented a theology of reconciliation rooted in the nature of God found in 1 John 4, which is love. Participants explored and discussed how the socioeconomic and political climates affect the process of reconciliation.
In conjunction with this discussion, a period was spent sharing obstacles to reconciliation as a way to engage the concept of forgiveness. Small groups convened as they studied Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness as written in Matthew. The activity proved difficult because most people are accustomed to forgiveness only after certain expectations of repentance are met. But Jesus’ words are about an impossible forgiveness, a forgiveness that does not require repentance but rather gives birth to it. Many had attempted to bury their pain and struggled with digging up bitter emotions. Some were surprised by the iceberg-like structure of their anger, including one Palestinian leader who discovered his deep-seeded hurt stemming from damage done to his village and his people. Israelis and Palestinians experienced the transforming catharsis as they were forced to sit face to face and allow dehumanization and injustice, oppression and victimization, to encounter one another and be overcome.
Everyone gathered together for the Lord’s Supper on the last night of the conference. The youth served the bread and the wine to their parents and the sacramental meal broken, which was shared by Israelis and Palestinians. This communion not only represented the sacramental partaking of the way and life of Jesus, but also embodied the “open commensality” of Jesus who invited everyone to his table.
Reconciliation is the fertile ground in which forgiveness is made possible, and tolerance is tempered with the reality of our neighbor’s suffering. In order to overcome old prejudices we must be converted to a new one: the prejudice of love for the other whose face we are now coming to see, whose name we are now coming to understand, and whose story we are now coming to hear.
By Jonathan McRay
Young Adult Follow-up
The young adults who attended Musalaha’s 2008 Desert Encounter have proved their forward movement in the process of reconciliation and are ready to move into more difficult subjects. Please lift them up in your prayers as they will be studying each other’s narrative history. That God would give them listening hearts and the groups leaders wisdom as they facilitate the discussions. The follow-up will take place October 4-5 at Talitha Kumi. We seek the Lord’s grace in their lives as they learn to listen and understand.
Women’s Third Side Meeting
Our Women’s Third Side group will be convening in Nazareth October 16-17 for one of their weekend conferences. They will be studying Hindrances to Reconciliation and disucssing how it affects them specifically. Pray for them that God would bless their time together and that it would move them one step closer to becoming true reconcilers in their communities.
We envy your prayers in our publications department as we are in the process of re-writing our multi-authored book on the Bible and the Land. This book is unique as it includes Palestinian Christian, Israeli Messianic Jewish and Western Christian authors, covering an array of perspectives and interpretations. Pray for us as this book covers the tough issue of Theology and the Land as it is controversial subject among the believers in the land. We are seeking the Lord’s guidance that he would open doors concerning a publisher and provide the one that is right for us.
Salim will be traveling to the United States in January and February. He will be speaking in San Francisco, Denver, Toronto, Columbus, Ohio and North Carolina. For further details about specific dates and places, please contact us.
As our organization is growing so are our needs for space. We are seeking the Lord’s guidance on which building to rent or should he open the doors, to purchase a facility. This building would allow us the room for our growing staff needs as well as a conference center for our groups who come for lectures. Please pray with us that God would lead us in the right direction.
P.O. Box 52110
P.O. Box 238
Medina, WA 98039-0238
Tax ID # 91-1960797
CH – 4153 Reinach
PC – Kto. – 40-33695-4
D – 79541 Loerrach
Sparkasse Loerrach (BLZ 68350048)
The Andrew Christian Trust
Rockwood, Storth Road
Cumbria LA7 7PH
Registered Charity Number: 327845
Salim J. Munayer, Ph.D.
Director of Musalaha