Dear Friends in Christ,
“Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus” (Ephesians 6:23).
- We traveled to Israel seeking people and places of peace.
- We spent time in Israel and in the West Bank.
- We spent time with the Palestinians in Bethlehem, Hebron, and Ramallah.
- We spent time with the Israelis in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem.
- We spent a morning touring Israel’s security barrier and watching Palestinians slowly work their way through check points.
- We visited a hospital in northern Israel that treats Syrians wounded in that country’s civil war.
- We met lots and lots of Palestinians living in refugee camps.
- It was a challenge to find peace in the whole community.
- Anger was easy to spot. Injustice was readily apparent.
- Long standing hatred was clearly articulated by so many.
- Young Israeli settlers holding machine guns proved particularly unnerving.
But here and there, we caught a glimpse of what might be. The Palestinian social workers who are empowering girls and women in the refugee camps, teaching them to be entrepreneurs and to run small businesses. The retired Israeli Defense Force leader, who after looking back on his military career said, “I failed to love my neighbor”, and is now seeking to make peace with former enemies. The Quaker School that reaches out to teach Israelis and Palestinians. Israeli students are learning Arabic, and Palestinian students are leaning Hebrew. If there is going to be peace, we need to at least be able to speak with one another. Here, we caught glimpses of what might be.
One of my most sacred moments of the trip was during an early morning run through the Old City of Jerusalem. As the day began to dawn, the sunlight danced across the white stones of the city. The illumination was breathtaking. To see the City of God in its glory and splendor is truly a gift of God. It was there, in the early morning, outside the walls of Jerusalem, that I discovered the gift of God’s peace.