Friday, August 8

Pray-ers for Peace

Wednesday evening, at about 6:30pm, a group of internationals and Palestinians gathered at Oush Ghrab for an ecumenical service. The Army base is actually built next to ruins of a Byzantine church, so it seemed an appropriate location. We knew in advance that the settlers who were trying to establish a settlement on that site would be holding an event that evening, and we thought we might get kicked out early in the night. We decided, however, that some prayer is better than none, and we went ahead with our plans for the service.

The group praying near the end of the evening

When the first settlers arrived, they questioned us and what we were doing there. Some of them told us to leave, that this was land only for Jews, but we continued with the service. Gradually, more and more settlers showed up with more and more equipment. We hadn't realized this was going to be such a big event, but we carried on singing songs, praying, and listening to some heartfelt sermons.

Our group is to the right of this shot

As the evening got later, some of the children of the settler group started to come over to us. Actually, they climbed on the roof of the building next to us. They began to wave their flags in our faces and mock our words and actions. We moved away from them, more toward the center of the site, and made a prayer circle. As a group, we discussed the things that made us thankful and then began to pray for peace. The praying was followed by singing.

Sometime in the middle of our singing, the settlers decided that they did not want us there anymore. A dozen or so kids put themselves in the middle of our group and started chanting nationalist slogans. The soldiers sensed trouble was brewing and lined themselves up between our group and the main group of settlers. Their "efforts" to keep the settlers away from us proved futile, and we were overrun by 100 or so angry settlers who pushed, hit, kicked and prodded us back into a corner. The English speaking settlers (most of them) shouted at us to "go back to Europe" and "get off Jewish land." One man taunted our minister for his belief in Jesus, saying "if he comes back, we'll kill him again."
All the while, we hear a woman screaming Hebrew into the microphone. Later on, a friend translated for us. She was shouting, "push them back! Get them out of here!"

The minister leading our service just ducked a flag pole (right side)

One we were in the corner, the soldiers decided to keep us back, rather than punishing the people who provoked the violence. In fact, both groups simply carried on doing what we were doing, although we spent a good hour searching for lost glasses, backpacks, etc that had been knocked off during the fracas. I was incredibly proud of the group of people I was with that day, as they showed great restraint in the face of insults and violence.

As the settler event came to a close, the men and women rose to pray. In contrast to the disrespect that the settlers showed to us, we grew quiet and prayed along with them.

Lord, we ask that you bring peace to this land.


Lynn Trew said...

Count me in as a pray-er along side of you. What an incredible experience. I am glad you have a presence of peace there. But I am relieved to know you are all safe. Blessings of God's richest kind!

Hannah said...

I'm proud of you guys.

Oh my gosh.

Melania/Nadine said...

Praise God you are able to peacefully witness the love of Christ...may it be a light to many.
You're daughter is BEAUTIFUL (almost as beautiful as my Sarah and Anna were- hee hee_
in His love,