By Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb
While the political analysts remind us of the immense challenges facing Palestine and the region, imagination shows us the endless opportunities that are within reach. The bridge between immense challenges and endless opportunities is hope in action. Imagination is what we see.
Hope is the power to keep focusing on the larger vision while taking the small, often un-dramatic, steps toward the future. Imagination can be highly deceptive if it is not connected to a well-defined strategy and a plan. Hope doesn’t wait for vision to appear. Hope is vision in action today. Faith that makes people passive, depressive, or delusional is not faith but opium. We have a great deal of that in our region and the world today. Faith is facing the empire with open eyes that allow us to analyze what is happening while, at the same time, developing the ability to see beyond our present capacities. Hope is living the reality and yet investing in a different one….
Hope is faith in action in the face of the empire. Hope is what we do today. Only that which we do today as people of faith and as engaged citizens can change the course of history and lay the foundation for a different future. This was the prophetic tradition that came out of Palestine, a tradition we must keep alive.
Excerpted from Mitri Raheb, Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible
Through Palestinian Eyes. Maryknoll, NY, 2014, pp. 129-130.
*Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb is the President of Diyar Consortium and of Dar al-Kalima University College in Bethlehem, as well as the President of the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, in addition to being the Senior Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Palestine. The most widely published Palestinian theologian to date, Dr. Raheb is the author of 16 books, including: Das Reformatorische Erbe unter den Palaestinensern, I am a Palestinian Christian; Bethlehem Besieged. He is the Chief Editor of the Contextual Theology Series at Diyar Publishing including: The Invention of History, A Century of Interplay between Theology and Politics in Palestine; The Biblical Text in the Context of Occupation: Towards a new hermeneutics of liberation. His books and numerous articles have been translated so far into eleven languages.
Dr. Raheb is a multilingual, award-winning, contextual theologian. In 2003, he received the prestigious Wittenberg Award from the Luther Center in DC for his “distinguished service to church and society,” anhonorary doctorate from Concordia University in Chicago for his “outstanding contribution to Christian education through research and publication,” and the HCEF Award for his “leadership by word and deed as you honored the mother church of Jerusalem, worked tirelessly to bring justice for the Palestinian People.” In 2006, he received the “International Mohammad Nafi Tschelebi Peace Award” of the Central Islam Archive in Germany for his “interfaith work toward peacemaking in Israel and Palestine,” and in 2007, the well-known German Peace Award of Aachen. In 2012, the German Media Prize, a Prize granted mainly to heads of state, was awarded to Dr. Raheb for his “tireless work in creating room for hope for his people, who are living under Israeli occupation, through founding and building institutions of excellence in education, culture, and health.”
The work of Dr. Raheb has received wide media attention from major international media outlets and networks, including CNN, ABC, CBS, 60 Minutes, BBC, ARD, ZDF, DW, BR, Premiere, Raiuno, Stern, The Economist, Newsweek, and Vanity Fair.
Dr. Raheb holds a Doctorate in Theology from Philipps University at Marburg, Germany. He is married to Najwa Khoury and has two daughters, Dana and Tala. For more, www.mitriraheb.org