We would like to thank those of you who prayed for our worship night, here is a report of God's hand on this event.
At the end of 2010, more than 150 people assembled, stood up, and boldly made a controversial statement in the middle of Jerusalem. But in this rally hands were raised in surrender rather than grasping picket signs, voices singing of love, unity, and hope rather than of a political agenda. Last week we did what should be one of the most natural and obvious activities for believers, but is unfortunately an unfathomable concept for many. We simply joined together, as Israeli and Palestinian believers, and praised our Father. The Messianic Jewish Congregation Shemen Sasson of West Jerusalem and the Palestinian Christian Alliance Church of East Jerusalem teamed up along with Musalaha to host a worship event featuring not only songs in Arabic and songs in Hebrew, but also songs in both Arabic and Hebrew. With just this act, we rattled the foundations of the barriers between us.
Out of a conversation between Musalaha Director Salim Munayer and Messianic Worship Leader Sheli Meyers came the idea for the event when they agreed that the believers of the land simply need to come together and worship. This night defied our expectations with what sheli later expressed as"the Lord anointing us, and all who came, with a Spirit of joy and unity," and was attended by Palestinian Christians, Palestinian-Israeli Christians, Messianic Jewish Israelis, and some international believers living in the area. This was a daunting challenge, not because of the question of the will of the people, but because of the logistical issues special to this area. While Palestinian-Israelis are permitted by Israel to travel to the Palestinian Territories, Jewish-Israelis are prohibited, and likewise Palestinians of the PA are barred from entering Israel. However, during the Christmas season, many Palestinian Christians receive permission for one month to enter Jerusalem. Musalaha, Shemen Sasson and the Alliance Church decided that the event would take place during that window of opportunity, at the end of 2010, in order that we may use the worship to look forward to oneness in the New Year.
Half a decade ago, in the first year of my aliyah as a young, optimistic Messianic Jew from a traditional and Zionist American family, I had more exposure to Palestinians than I ever have since: l learned Hebrew with them five hours every day and worked with them in a restaurant eight hours every evening. Despite the constant, friendly contact with these Muslim Jerusalemites, my relationships were in no way deeply connected, and I was free to unconscientiously drop them into whatever ideological or theological boxes that my comfort zone saw fit. My first encounter with Palestinians who were instead believers was on the Musalaha desert trip in which I participated the confusing moment when members of this once outsider population penetrated the realm of the personal, even the spiritual, the moment that I was left with no choice but to call them my brothers. I recall the enjoyment and bonding of that week as well as the ever present yet subtle tension, but most of all I remember the one worship experience that left me speechless. The underlying sense of distance, hesitation, and hostility was shattered when we dropped both our defenses and our burdens in order to enter into the presence of our Creator. Suddenly the tension melted, and for a few minutes we were free to embrace the truest, deepest, and when the worship time ended I oncer again donned my suit of female, Jewish, brunette, size 38 shoe, etc, and all of its associations and struggles. I left the trip with a refreshed hope in having witnessed such unity, but also a disappointment at its limitations.
That was years ago, when I was a naive new immigrant. Events which at that point I would have never expected or understood would take place both in my life and in this Land during the course of the following years. Until last week, none of these experiences had led to tears of joy. How could I have foreseen not only a replication of the awe inspiring occurrence from the trip, but one that was the times its size, and not in neutral, open atmosphere like that of the desert, but in a hectic political center of an all-too-real struggle? This experience is not a product of pretending that there are no issued, rather one attained by delving even deeper than those issued, into the spiritual core of who we are. When two sides engage with each other there will always address, but how glorious when two sides first build their unity by engaging with God, where there is only freedom and peace.
By Ronit Kory
Desert Encounters: Please lift up our Youth Desert Encounter and our Sand and Sound Desert Encounter which will both take place during the Easter/Passover holidays. Pray as we recruit youths for their journey of reconciliation throughout the Negev and for all the logistical details to run smoothly as the American young adults meet again with their Israeli and Palestinian counterparts for part 2 of the Sand and Sound Encounter.
Salim’s Trip: Please pray for Salim who will be speaking to various churches and groups throughout the US and Canada from March 17 through March 28. If you would like to schedule to hear Salim speak, please contact us at [email protected] . He will be in the following areas on these dates: Los Angeles, CA area – March 17-20; Seattle, WA area – March 21-23; Vancouver area – March 24-28.
Reconciliation Conference: We are excited to announce at the Coventry Cathedral in Coventry, UK, a conference on reconciliation. Come and see how it is possible to see reconciliation between Israeli and Palestinians. The conference will feature Palestinian Christian Dr. Salim J. Munayer and Messianic Israeli Pastor Evan Thomas. The conference will include workshops in partnership with the Church Mission Society, the Baptist Mission Society, YWAM and Near East Ministry. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity, May 20-21, 2011 (Friday and Saturday). To stay updated with conference sessions, Click Here. Cost includes 22£ a day without lunch and 30£ with lunch. Discounts available for students, sign-up now as places are limited. Please e-mail us at [email protected]
Looking for Summer Camp Sponsors: We are looking for church groups and/or organizations to sponsor one of our three summer camps in Hebron; the children’s camp at the Baptist Village in Petah Tikva, Israel and the youth camp at the Baptist Village. If you are interested, please contact us. The prices and dates for the summer camps are the following: Hebron - $11,839; Children’s Camp - $29,006 and the Youth Camp - $19,176. For more information, please write to [email protected] or [email protected]
Available: Order Now! Jonathan McRay’s book You Have Heard it Said, Events of Reconciliation by Jonathan McRay. This work is a collection of stories of Musalaha participants who are on this journey of reconciliation. To order, click here.