Letters from the West Bank, Part 2
The Impact of Short-Term Mission Trips
The streets were empty...another curfew had been imposed. The
only visible activity was a group of American youth and adults making sure
that Laila and Samira got home safely. Their surprised parents invited
everyone - all twenty of us! - to stay for a while and drink coffee.
|Christian mission continues, even in dangerous times.
The complex world situation affects all international mission workers,
especially those working with Christian congregations in Palestine.
Their stories remind us that Christians are still called to share God's
light and love in an uncertain world. Let us continue to keep international
Christian workers in our prayers.
- Tom Bandy, Senior Editor
As we prepared to leave, we visited the same churches that had nurtured us, seeking their support (it’s difficult to argue with “we’re going and
|How does communicating regularly with foreign mission workers affect local congregations? One example, from Rev. Patrick Rabun, associate pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church of Atlanta: "Due to receiving correspondence from Marthame and Elizabeth Sanders, Trinity has become more interested in the situation in the Middle East, especially in Palestine. Trinity has become involved in the 'Joining Hands Against Hunger' initiative and has set up a Palestine Initiative Committee to work with Fahed Abu-Akel, a minister in the Atlanta Presbytery, to educate Trinity members about what is happening there. Our hope is to attempt to partner with people in an effort to better understand what is happening in the West Bank and Gaza. It is our hope in the very near future to be able to better financially support [ministries] through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in the Middle East."|
This vision has led us into a number of different ministries with the four churches (Anglican, Greek Orthodox, Melkite, and Roman Catholic) in Zababdeh, from teaching English and sports to participating in worship services and youth activities. However, during the difficulties of the current Intifada, our mere presence, a sign of solidarity and encouragement, seems to be our greatest ministry.
As participants in this work of mutual encouragement, our supporting
congregations have received blessings as well. The e-pen-pal
relationships we began have become educational tools about the faith,
society, and politics of the land where Christ was born. Their worship
life has been broadened as they remember us in prayer groups and on Sunday
mornings. For many, Christmas Eve was especially meaningful last year,
as they sat for a time of silence remembering the situation faced by their
brothers and sisters in Palestine. The relationships continue to
grow, both here and there, in ways that give strength to
both. As these connections flourish, we hope that they may plant seeds, like those planted seven years ago in Ramallah, in the hearts and minds of those whom we touch.
Marthame and Elizabeth Sanders