June 12, 2009
We are at a most busy and fruitful time of the year. God has provided us the opportunity for many outlets of reconciliation building through summer camps, follow-ups, women’s groups, seminars and conferences. Below is a report from a women’s conference we had for our new women’s group.
Last month, Musalaha brought a group of 20 Israeli and Palestinian women to Cyprus to begin the journey of reconciliation. Our time in Cyprus was blissful, peaceful, productive. We learned about listening, the stages of reconciliation and the character of a reconciler. The time was fruitful, filled with laughter and fellowship.
In reflecting about the trip upon my return, some of the things that stand out most were my experiences traveling to Cyprus and returning home. Leaving Israel was quite an ordeal. Our mixed group of women was questioned, delayed, looked at suspiciously. “What could Israelis and Palestinians possibly have to do with one another?,” was the unasked question.
All this was soon forgotten as we were finally allowed to board our plane. For four days, we were visitors in Cyprus. There was no ever present security, no daily talk of existential threat or the delays and frustrations of checkpoints. No one looked at us strangely, stopped us, or asked us questions with skepticism. We were able to speak freely, share with each other from our hearts and experiences, and learn from one another.
And then we came home very early in the morning on May 5. As my taxi driver took me home, he told me he lived in the same neighborhood as I…and then he digressed into racial slurs and bigoted comments about the Arab neighborhoods and communities bordering ours. And my heart sank, because I knew I was home.
Recently I read a short parable that I found provoking, motivating and encouraging. One day, a young man has a dream. He lives in a world in which following Christ is illegal. He is summoned to court, and as he stands before a judge he sees the evidence laid out against him. There are pictures of him attending religious events and services, religious books and music taken from his home, journal entries in which he discussed his faith, and his well-worn Bible attesting to his daily reading of that sacred text. He sits in fear, awaiting the verdict that would bring either imprisonment or death. Denying his faith crosses his mind, but he tries to push it away, pray and maintain resolve. After some time, the judge summons him to stand before him, and declares him not guilty. His fear dissipates into immediate relief, but as the verdict sinks in, he becomes indignant, and angry. He demands an explanation for the rendering of such a verdict. The dream ends with the judge’s words: “The court is indifferent towards your Bible reading and religious meetings; it has no concern for worship with words and a pen. Continue to develop your theology, and use it to paint pictures of a comforting world in your mind. We have no interest in such church-going artists who spend their time creating mental images of a better world. We exist for those who would lay down that brush, and their life, in a Christ-like endeavor to create such a world.”
Herein lays the challenge and vocation. Work for reconciliation is met with skepticism, wariness, fear, suspicion and disbelief. And many times, it’s quite tiring. But this is our challenge. This is our vocation. It’s far too easy to be ignorant and hole up within our respective communities, imagining that we are wronged and in the right, holding tightly to our favorite prejudices. But in encountering the other, we grow and learn and change – speaking peace, passing the peace, and creating spaces for peace to happen. And so we endeavor to create such a world.
By Ambreen Tour
 Paraphrased, partially quoted and adapted from Rollins, Peter. How (Not) to Speak of God. Brewster, Massachusetts: Paraclete Press, 2006, pp. 124-125.
Please keep Salim in your prayers as he will be traveling to the UK in a few weeks and speaking at the following churches:
Thursday June 25th:
St. Leonard’s Parish Church in Butleigh at 7:30 pm (Contact: David and Elspeth Rymer: email@example.com)
Friday June 26th:
Methodist Church, East Sussex at 8:00 pm (Lower High Street, Wadhurst, East Sussex TN5 6LP, Contact: Mark Pearson: 00447710478476)
Saturday June 27th:
Mark Cross Inn, East Sussex at 8:30 a.m. (Mark Cross, East Sussex TN5 6LP, Contact: Mark Pearson: 00447710478476)Christ Church, Billericay at 7:00 p.m. (Perry st, Billericay, CM12 0NX, contact: Warner Pidgeon: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sunday June 28th:
St Mary, Bloxham at 9:30 a.m. (Church Street, Bloxham, Banbury Oxon)
St Laurence, Milcombe at 11:15 a.m. (where Bloxham rd and Horton Ln meets)
St John’s at 6:30 pm (Main rd, Southbourne, Hampshire, PO10 8LB, contact: Richard Thomas: 01243/430613)
Monday June 29th:
St George’s in Daubhill at 7.30 p.m. (Church Avenue, Daubhill, Lancashire, Contact: Revd Fayaz: email@example.com)
Tuesday June 30th:
Dronfield Baptist Church at 7.30 p.m. (1 Stubley Lane, Dronfield)
Youth Leadership Training Seminar
We covet your prayers as we gear up for part 1 of our Youth Leadership Training Seminar slated for June 25-29 in Ephesus, Turkey. We are in the process of applying for visas for our Palestinian participants and ask that you pray for us that we will not encounter any delays or difficulties. We hope that God will work within the hearts of the Israeli and Palestinian participants now that they will be ready for the teaching so they can be fully equipped to minister the message of reconciliation to their respective youth groups.
We are in the process of finalizing the camp program for our Israeli-Palestinian summer camp. While we have finalized the list of counselors we ask that you pray for us as we recruit campers. Various organizations and congregations offer a number of summer camps, but we know God is faithful to bring in children who will at a young age be exposed to the other side and see them as brothers and sisters. We ask that you especially uplift our Palestinian summer camps in the Bethlehem region the week of July 6 and in the Zababdeh region the week of July 27. We ask that you uplift the leaders and organizers who are juggling a number of responsibilities that God would empower them with his strength and pour grace on their lives as they prepare to impact hundreds of children in their communities.
With the Bridgebuilders Conference just a few months a way we are excited about this opportunity for reconciliation between Israelis, Palestinians and Norwegians. The conference is slated for August 7-17 and we are still in the process of recruiting and interviewing the final number of Israeli candidates. We still need to recruit specifically two male Israelis and one male Norwegian participant. Join with us in believing God to provide the necessary funding, a smooth process for visas and the closing of the final recruits.
We are excited about upcoming Family/Leader’s Conference which is slated for August 14-21 in Karlsbad, Germany. We ask that you pray for the Lord’s provision for the purchase of the airline tickets as well as the visas. Also, that God would prepare the hearts of the Israeli and Palestinian community leaders at this time that they will be fully prepared and equipped to learn and initiate reconciliation in their societies.
Contributions to Musalaha can be sent to Musalaha directly, or to the following organizations in the USA and Europe. Please write the checks to the name of the organization (e.g. The Andrew Christian Trust), and in a letter designate the funds to Musalaha.
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
You can also make a secure online donation simply by visiting our website, www.musalaha.org. Thank you.
Salim J. Munayer, Ph.D.
Director of Musalaha