"That was neat, now get on the bus there is more to see." And so ends our every visit by our Telos leadership. Their purpose is to encourage us to see, hear, and understand a variety of perspectives. It makes me feel so off balance. For six months I have known I would be in Israel and Palestine. I read books and articles. I watched documentaries and the news. I have a handle on the history. What I have not had until now is context and "facts on the ground." I will share what we did today, but it will take me days if not weeks to be able to fully reflect on the experiences of this week so far.
I have just completed my first 24hours inside a walled off occupied territory. Never before had I been to such a place. And after only one day my perception has once again been changed. Today we met with three very different Palestinian Christians.
Each had their own perspective and for the sake of their discretion I think for today I will simply share the most basic information. We toured the Bethel Bible College that seeks to create a higher education in for Palestinians. There are remarkably few Palestinian Christians because Christian schools are some of the best in Israel. Christians usually go to college abroad and once there stay. The college is trying to create in country education options. Second we visited the "Christmas Church" led by Dr. Mitri Raheb author of "I am a Palestinian Christian." He is not overly optimistic on politics but did encourage us to read scripture remembering it was written by and to middle eastern people. Finally, we met with Sami Awad of Holy Land Trust a nonviolent proactive leadership development center. His leadership techniques are powerful and give me hope.
These Palestinian Christians do not all agree on how to move forward but all agree that it must be done non-violently, through education and cultural change with all parties involved.
We also visited the Church of the Nativity the oldest Christian structure in the world. It was a neat place full of history. It is amazing to think about the millions of believers who have gone into this church over the years.
Today was an amazing experience I will not soon forget. A full description and reflection will have to wait for another post. For now let me just say, today has affected me in new ways.