Rev Karen Fenwick and Rev Gordon Kennedy have been representing the Church of Scotland, World Mission Council at a conference organised by Bethlehem Bible College and has taken place in Bethlehem from 5-9th March 2012. The conference focused on the ministry of the Palestinian Church in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and covered topics including: Biblical Hope, Biblical Justice, Christian Zionism, Theology of the Land, Non-Violence, Peace-making and the Church, and Reconciliation. (http://www.christatthecheckpoint.com/)
Day 1 – What a first day – our car passed through the Checkpoint without any problems, but it is kind of scary seeing these young men with machine guns. The opening worship was beautiful and the words were so reminiscent of the Psalms, asking God for peace to all men and for restoration of their land.
And then there were the statements from Palestinian Christians, ordinary men and women – yes and even children, proud to be called Christian. What is more, they pointed out that they are NOT an invented nation – they have always lived there – some can even trace back their ancestors to the early Church, early followers of the Lord Jesus Christ – wow – it sent shivers down my spine.
And we were welcomed by every Palestinian and his brother, starting with the Prime Minister, Dr. Salam Fayyad, who outlined the Palestinian position and called for the right to live with integrity and freedom.
The last speaker of the evening (and it seemed a very long evening, but that was probably the jet lag) was the President of the Bethlehem Bible College, who have organised this conference. He spoke on a Testimony to God’s faithfulness, a powerful message which left us all praising God. I can’t wait for tomorrow.
Day 2 & 3 – It’s been a really busy couple of days. Yesterday I went on a visit to East Jerusalem. This is meant to be the Palestinian area, and many of the Palestinians own their land. The problem that they have is that East Jerusalem is considered to be a green area, so that cannot get planning permission. Some have been trying for years so they have gone ahead and built. The Israeli Government then send out fines and demolition orders and go and bulldoze their homes. However, wealthy Jewish business men surprisingly manage to get planning permission to built settlement homes right in the middle of the Palestinian land.
There is a Jewish organisation called ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolition) and they are fighting against this injustice at great personal risk. They make up a growing number of Jews and Arabs who are standing together using non violent methods to fight against this type of injustice.
I can’t believe how ignorant we are in the Western world of just what is going on here.
One more action packed day tomorrow and then back to the airport. Please pray for an easy passage through Israeli customs.