Some years ago, in the book The Body and the Blood, reporter Charles Sennott of the Boston Globe lamented the Middle East’s vanishing Christian population, many leaving because of the bitter conflicts there. They were needed, Sennott argued, because they represented a mediating force, even those not committed to pacifism.
Seminar participants and Mennonite Central Committee staff gather in front of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. (Photo by Nadia García)
Right before winter reading break, 30 university students from across Canada gathered in Ottawa to learn about the current conflict in Palestine and Israel at a seminar hosted by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada Ottawa Office. From Feb. 15–17, students attending “Palestine and Israel: Let no walls divide” explored issues of advocacy, peace and justice.
Tear gas containers litter the gardens near the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank Palestinians know that every Friday they can expect tear gas to be lobbed into the refugee camps outside of Bethlehem. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)
The separation wall in Bethlehem, in the West Bank. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)
‘How you experience holy is different than you expect it to be.’ -Rev. Carrie Ballenger Smith
After a year of travel, seeking faith and justice on four continents, there are lessons that I am still unpacking. Between the busy schedules of church, master’s thesis work, travel and work with the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), it takes a moment of pause to catch up with my experiences. And so, I pause. I look back to remember.
I have received a new call from Bethlehem Bible College (BBC) and Mennonite Church Canada to go to Palestine/Israel for nine weeks to teach Pastoral Care and Counseling in the biblical towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth. There are over 70 churches and 55,000 Arab Christians in Palestine. Unfortunately, few of the pastors have been trained in the practice of pastoral care. I will seek to respond to some of that need.