Saturday, May 4, 2013

Home of Peace

EAPPI Standing in Solidarity with the Home of Peace

EAPPI stands in solidarity with church related organizations and projects.  Home of Peace is an example of how Christian initiative can work together with government, in this case the Polish government, to promote Christian love.  According to an article in the PNN Palestine News Network, the Polish government aid comes through small grants.  In the grant process, local or Polish nongovernment organizations (NGO’s) working on grass roots levels in the West Bank apply for grants.  These grants are selected based areas of focus and best operational plans.  

Home of Peace received a grant and built in Bethlehem in order to help Palestinians who, because of the rules of the occupation, remain cut off from the other works of the Sisters of St Elizabeth that are in Jerusalem. 

At the Home of Peace I met Sister Rafaela. now in her 80’s.  The day we met she just returned from a visit with a destitute family.  

Thorough the Home of Peace she can provide for some of the physical needs in the community.  The needs exceed the resources.

Her quote below comes from an article from PNN Palestine News Network.
“I came here with one purpose only, to be a missionary,” she said. Since arriving in 1961 with the Sisters of St. Elizabeth, Sister Rafaela says she has seen a steady decrease of not only Palestinian Christians as a demographic, but also in their standard of living as well as the opportunity to be able to make a livelihood both in Palestine and Israel. In the end it is the children who are the real victims of this hopelessness.” 

This beautiful new facility is an orphanage and a place where children can come after school for a meal and help with their homework.  This facility includes classrooms and a computer lab.  As you can see, there is space for more computers. 

The same article from PNN Palestine News Network quoted Sister Rafael saying the following.
Sister Rafeala believes the way to grow back the Christian community in the West Bank and throughout the Holy Land means giving children the chance to learn that very faith, grow in it, and learn in it and from it.”

As I was leaving Sister Krispina and some of the children greeted visitors, as two buses of Polish tourists arrived.  

We said a quick goodbye in English, she switched her speaking to Polish as she rushed in to help host the visitors.

Consider Your Call, if you can help, contact via email:

Continue to pray for a Just Peace in the Middle East

Friday, May 3, 2013

Demolition of Buildings

EAPPI works in cooperation with UN-OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

Information about demolished homes and buildings comes to us from many sources.  We process incident reports.  Our reports are used my many groups including the United Nations.
This past week we went to a farmer’s field.  He has put a lot of work into his agriculture livelihood. 

He erected a building to store his equipment.  It was s place where he could get a respite from the sun. 

The Israeli army came and destroyed his agriculture building. 

He had not been informed about the pending demolition.  However, later he found a demolition order that had been left on the ground near his building.  

Israel's army continues to destroy Palestinian homes and buildings.  The Bethlehem EAPPI team has been involved in three reports in my short time here. 

More information on Israel’s policy of demolitions can be located at, The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, ICHAD, is a human rights and peace organization dedicated to ending the prolonged Israeli Occupation over the Palestinians.  They operate under the banner:

Resisting Occupation, Constructing Peace

House of Hope

EAPPI - Standing in Solidarity 

with the House of Hope 

House of Hope is a church related organization operating a day care and school for the blind and children with special needs.  The mainstream schools, do not program for these children.  At House of Hope, they receive an education and learn practical skills that allow them to live lives that are more independent. 

House of Hope has a boarding section where children are cared for 24/7.   There is also a residence for blind adults and young men who have out-grown the boarding section of the children's facilities.

House of Hope offers adults employment through their wood workshop. Several past employees have gone on to open successful shops of their own in the Bethlehem area. They also try to find small jobs for the young men to do either around House of Hope or on other projects in the Bethlehem area.

On the day I visited, I enjoyed morning devotions, a short talk and a lot of singing.  Because the Orthodox Church celebrates their Easter this weekend, in preparation, an activity of the day was an Easter egg hunt.  

All “found” eggs and shouted with joy!

As Kais SaĆ”d showed me around, we talked about the ongoing needs of the House of Hope.  Obtain information on how to be a part of this ministry from

If you are planning a trip to the Holy Lands, House of Hope has VERY reasonable rates for lodging and is within walking distance of Manger Square.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Prayer at Wall

The steadfastness of Palestinian believers is displayed each Friday during the Prayer Walk at the Wall.
We are praying with the Caritas Sisters for a Just Peace to this conflict.  

Our prayers are for a non-violent solution based on international law.

Please join us, praying for a Just Peace!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bethlehem Bible College

Bethlehem Bible College is a Christian college located in Bethlehem, the very site where Jesus was born. Located within the territory of the West Bank, the local community is highly impacted by today’s political unrest and conflict.
It is from the very epicenter of Christianity, that the Christian community is slowly decreasing. Before 1948, the Christian community was roughly 8% of the community in the Holy Land.  Today, the Christian population is a less than 1.5% of the Palestinian community, as many Christians are emigrating from the difficult political situation to better opportunities for education, work, and their families abroad.
Bethlehem Bible College was founded in 1979 by local Arabs, to offer high-quality theological education and train Christian leaders for service in the local church and the local community.  It aims to strengthen and revive the Christian church and support the local Christians in the Holy land, in order to combat this growing Christian exodus.  The above introduction is from their web site,
My heart leaped with joy when I was finally able to visit this college.  Rev. Alex Awad and Brenda Awad, both missionaries with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries hosted our visit.

The college has a beautiful new academic facility named after its founder, Dr. Bushara Awad.  My teammate Ulrike, from Germany, is photographed with these brothers.

Rev. Awad gave us a tour of the facility.                              

He said he often uses this facility giving lectures to tour groups.  He gives  information on the religious and political background to the conflict here in Palestine.

After a visit, a dentist from the USA felt called by God to create this beautiful window.  He completed this project even though he had never done anything like this before. 

The library at this school is extensive and open to the public. 

The children’s section was a donation through the United Methodist Woman Organization in the USA.  

It was fun to see, in the lobby of the academic center, the posters of encouragements and prayers created at Christ United Methodist Church in Traverse City, MI during their Lenten Series, Exploring Peace in the Middle East.

You will see from the college web site that there are many ways to be involved with Bethlehem Bible College.    

One that I think is very important is the Shepherd Society.  It was established in 1996 in Bethlehem when several Palestinian pastors and Christian leaders felt called to extend Christ’s love in a practical way to those in need within their community.  The Shepherd Society is the charitable arm of the Bethlehem Bible College and a way they are responding to the Gospel’s call to love our neighbor and care for the poor.
The specifics on how you can help Palestinians through the Shepherd Society can be located at

Please continue to pray for a Just Peace in the Middle East.

Church and Celebration

Evangelical Lutheran Church Beit Sahur
On Sunday my teammate from Germany,  and I traveled to Beit Sahur to attend the Evangelical Lutheran Chruch.   One of the parishioners was a writer of the Kairos Document.  More about and a copy of this document can be obtained at The congregation was small because most of the Christians in this are are Orthodox. 

The bulletin was English friendly.  Part of it had English as well as Arabic, and the arabic was a transliteration using the English alphabet so we could follow along.  The pastor, Ashraf Tannous, had particitated in our handover service.  You can find more information about this church at:

Most of the Christians in Beit Sahur are Orothdox.  Sunday, 4/28 was their Palm Sunday.  We enjoyed their huge celebration as we left the Lutheran church service. 
Inside the church yard a processional, outside waiting for the parade

While waiting for the parade, it was fun to bump into some Methodists from UK, Phillip and Rachell.  They have been to the states twice when Phillip was involved in a Pastoral exchange program.  He said he learned to tie his bow tie when he went to North Carolina.

Hope you enjoy this Palm Sunday Festivities via these pictures.

Young and old watching and participating together.

Cremisan Valley

The paragraph below is from a portion of a newsletter from Chruches for Middle East Peace formed in 1984, and is a coalition of 24 national churches denominations and organizations including Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions. It works to encourage U.S. government policies that actively promote a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ensuring security, human rights and religious freedom for all people of the region.  More Information about this group is available at

Legal Blow to Cremisan Valley
The Israeli Special Appeals Committee for land seizure under emergency law released its verdict on Wednesday April 24, 2013 regarding the case of the Cremisan Valley against the separation wall. The Society of St. Yves, a Catholic human rights group, had represented the monastery in the Israeli courts in this case that has gone on for seven years. Israel is now expected to press ahead with construction of the vast West Bank barrier around a convent near the Christian town of Beit Jala. 
The barrier will cut the Cremisan convent off of 75 percent of their land as well as a monastery with which they have close relations. Additionally, over 50 Palestinian Christian families of Beit Jala will no longer have access to their agricultural land. Xavier Abu Eid, a diplomat in the Palestine Liberation Organization explains: "The occupation hurts Christians and Muslims both, but affects the Christian community more because it's a smaller percentage of the population […] This is a matter of their survival, as this is one of the last pieces of land the community owns.”

I took this photo from across the valley to show the beautiful land that will be divided by the wall.  

Later in the day we attended the outdoor mass at Cremisan Monastery.  

The faithful came to pray and worship.  They were reminded that like Jesus praying under the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffering came but the resurrection followed!  

They were encouraged to continue praying even here under the olive trees knowing God provides the resurrection.   

After the mass an explanation of the legal process was given.  A letter is being sent to Pope Frances asking for his help in securing a just peace as he meets soon with the government leaders of Israel.  

What a privilege it is for us, through EAPPI, to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ here in Palestine.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Donkey Into Prison

Arab Educational Institute (AEI)

We visited the General Director, Faud Giacaman, of The Arab Educational Institute.  

The institute is a member of Pax Christi International.

There are many activities held through this organization; their sumud (steadfastness) program supports education in values, culture and identity. 

AEI’s Sumud Story House organizes non-violent actions and gives a voice to women and families whose lives have been directly affected by the wall.  The women’s stories have been compiled in a book and some are posted on the wall.  I am looking forward to attending the Women's group on Wednesday afternoons.

 An example from their book, The “Wall Museum” Palestinian Stories on the Wall in Bethlehem is copied below.

Donkey into Prison.

Today I live with my family in Walaja village.  It isn’t really our village.  We named it after our original village that we had to leave behind (in 1948 during the Nakba).  We can still see our village on the hillside across from us, but we aren’t allowed to go there.  My son Taha was taken to prison when he was thirteen.  When he was in prison, he built a miniature replica of Al Aqsa Mosque.  He dreams of praying there one day though the Israelis won’t give Palestinian men a permit to pray there till they are over fifty.  My son Mustafa is a farmer.  This winter he was carrying firewood home to us.  The Israeli soldiers stopped him and made him stand out in the rain till nightfall.  They took his donkey and told him they were taking his donkey to prison. 

Hind, Al-Walajeh Village.
Supported by Ecumenical Woman’s Group