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Letters from the West Bank, Part 1
How Technology Can Build Bridges across the World within the Body of Christ...
Net Results

The formation of global networks and partnerships has become a crucial leverage point for church transformation.  Not only do such partnerships and networks raise awareness of the mission field, but they link even the smallest churches with the movement of God's Spirit around the world.

Net Results offers another look at church vitalization from a non-North American viewpoint with this series on the Christian Church on the West Bank in Palestine.  We hope it will inspire and guide you in leadership development and resource sharing.  This is a world in which all you need is one teenager with a modem (or one senior citizen with a global consciousness and five extra minutes in the day) to link with Christians on the other side of the globe.  Put that in your worship and celebrate it!

              - Tom Bandy, Senior Editor

Dear Net Results Readers:

An excerpt from the e-pen-pal project:
"My name is Noor, which means 'light.'  I'm 17 and in the 12th grade.  I like to eat very much but I also like to play sports  - especially volleyball and tennis.  I have four brothers and one sister.  I don't have pets because they frighten me.  Instead I have a lot of pink teddy bears in my room.  Zababdeh is a beautiful village beneath the blue sky.  In the future I would like to be a designer.
As we look out our window at hills strewn with olive trees and inhabited by goats and donkeys, we are struck by the simplicity of life here in Zababdeh, a predominantly Christian village in the northern West Bank.  But after sharing tea in the tent of our semi-nomadic goat-herding friends, we often experience a kind of culture shock when we then hop onto the Internet - an important part of our ministry here.  As we straddle these two worlds, we see our work as building bridges between people in America and people here.  We hope to use Internet technology to bring Christians in both places closer, sharing their common humanity and faith and breaking down barriers of misconception and prejudice.

As a farewell gift, one of our supporting congregations in suburban Chicago gave us a digital camera, which we use constantly to maintain our two websites.  The first site is an overview of our work in the village and also a gateway to more information about a variety of topics: Arab Christian communities, our supporters (both financial and spiritual) in America, and the current conflicts in the Middle East.  The second is a daily journal that includes pictures, audio, and video of our lives here - from the olive harvest to the Islamic call to prayer, from trips to Jerusalem to sounds from the nearby military camp.  In addition to monthly email updates and articles for church newsletters, our websites are a window into our ministry, personalizing our work and putting a human face on this war-torn part of the world.

The Melkite Church with the nearby Mosque in the background.
Recently we have also started an e-pen-pal project between our twelfth-grade religion students here and a Presbyterian youth group in Lubbock, Texas.  The speed and reliability of email allows these kids on opposite sides of the world to get to know each other.  There is synergy here, as one mention of the e-pen-pal program in our daily journal generated interest among at least three more churches wanting to do similar projects.

The result for our partner churches has been remarkable.  There is an immediacy to our work here for congregations and their mission committees back in the States.  Instead of being a mere line-item in the mission budget, our ministry has become alive and tangible for our supporters, feeding a growing passion for mission and fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world.  And similarly, as missionaries located far from home, we feel blessed by the prayers and support we received daily by email.  One day, no doubt, we will return to the States. 
Marthame and Elizabeth Sanders are mission workers in the Palestinian Christian village of Zababdeh.
But while we remain here, we are excited to continue exploring how we can use technology to help churches build bridges across the world within the Body of Christ.

Marthame and Elizabeth Sanders