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Letters from the West Bank, Part 2
The Impact of Short-Term Mission Trips
Net Results

Marthame and Elizabeth Sanders are mission workers in the Palestinian Christian village of Zababdeh.  They provide a monthly emailed information letter on their ministry.
Dear Net Results Readers:

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

The year was 1993; the town was Ramallah; and the coffee was Arabic.  Marthame was part of that group, sent by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on a mission trip to meet community leaders and help renovate a Christian school. For three intense weeks, we heard the stories and shared the lives of our Palestinian peers.  This church trip planted seeds in Marthame, seeds that were nurtured by churches in Atlanta and Chicago, seeds that grew, as does the mustard seed, into something much larger than expected. Seven years later, we felt blessedly overwhelmed, surrounded, and summoned by a sense of call to mission in the Holy Land.

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."
it’s your fault”).  Periodically, we saw people hesitate when we said the word mission. For some, the term still evokes images of Katherine Hepburn in the African Queen...Victorian-era missionaries who wanted to bring the gospel but wound up trying to impose a cultural identity on the people they served. Conversely, our vision of “mission,” strongly shaped by that trip to Ramallah, is one dominated by listening, learning, and sharing. We are missionaries who go, as Paul articulated in Romans 1:12, to extend a hand of mutual support and encouragement to fellow Christians.

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