The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) has always advocated for a just peace here based on a two-state solution, a shared Jerusalem…
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) has always advocated for a just peace here based on a two-state solution, a shared Jerusalem, a non-violent struggle to attain freedom from occupation and a sovereign, viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel along the 1967 borders.
The United States, The European Union and others are curtailing financial aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Israel is making it a policy to boycott the PA. The Palestinian population is once more faced with a growing humanitarian crisis that could reach catastrophic proportions. Because of the freeze in aid the PA will be unable to pay salaries to 140,000 of its employees. Each salary supports 5-6 people, so this decision will drastically affect more than 1 million Palestinians. Despite statements that humanitarian aid will not be cut off, the freeze will eliminate the bulk of income and further devastate innocent families as well as the whole economy, already struggling with a high unemployment rate, severe movement restrictions and a severely damaged infrastructure.
The ELCJHL is concerned about the future of our ministries and schools when salaries are suddenly cut off and families are without income. This will obviously have major direct and indirect effect on all Palestinians, including our church and ministries.
During this sacred week, we experience the drama of Holy Week yet again. Simon of Cyrene was from North Africa “coming in from the country” (Luke.23:26). Why was he visiting Jerusalem? Celebrating Pesach, meeting friends? We don’t know. But suddenly he was recruited by the occupying power to carry the cross of a criminal sentenced to death!
What thoughts he must have had while carrying the cross: Where are this man’s friends? Did he know the man he was helping to carry the cross? In the passion story power and powerlessness are mixed together. Evil and hatred are mixed with a love which does not insist on its own way. This love is alien to a world which prefers revenge, despises weakness and blames the victims. Perhaps Simon wondered what he could have been doing instead of carrying this other person’s burden.
If we believe we are all human beings created in the image of God, then all violations of human beings are also violations of God. But the sites of these violations can also be transformed into opportunities for healing and restoration of human dignity. A God who shares in the sufferings of life does not abandon us when we are alone and vulnerable. Maybe this is what is happening to Simon while carrying the cross? He is sharing and carrying a burden of an unknown suffering human being! No special religious motivations! He may not even know who he is helping. But he is helping this Jesus from Nazareth, on his Via Dolorosa, the road of suffering, where his friends had left him because of fear. On a dark day in Jerusalem, somebody is helping another person on the road of suffering.
Given the present situation for those now suffering on the road in the Holy Land today, we appeal to you to continue to carry and share our burdens enabling us to serve our people, Christians and Muslims alike, in the church ministries, the community-based schools and institutions with teachers, doctors, social workers and others.
We ask for your prayers and immediate support so that our witness will not end in the Holy Land but instead grow stronger, promoting hope, peace with justice and reconciliation in the Land of Resurrection.
We invite your congregation to become a partner with a school or a congregation here, learning about each other’s ministries and assisting in those ministries. Contact us for information as to how this partnership can happen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Your financial support can be sent through your national church body, clearly marked “ELCJHL Ministries.” In addition, we urge you to join us in prayerful deliberation as we strive to find creative ways and new means to enable us to carry out our calling as God’s people in this land.
Your brother in Christ
Bishop of the ELCJHL