One day during our delegation we were having a scripture reflection with Sabeel, a liberation theology centre, and were discussing what exactly Jesus meant when He said He was the bread of life and what this means in a context where people are hungering and thirsting both physically and spiritually as a result of oppression. A man who was part of the reflection shared a paraphrase of a piece in the Quran very similar to Matthew 25 in the Gospels. He shared that someone was asking where God was and that they hadn’t seen Him. The response was this, “if you would’ve fed the hungry, visited the prisoner or clothed the needy, it is there that you would have found me.”
In the midst of the occupation, it is so easy to feel heavy with hopelessness and wonder where God is in this situation and if there is any hope at all. It takes tremendous intentionality and grace to try and see the humanity in the oppressors; to not dehumanize them as they continue to dehumanize the ones they oppress. Yet there are also many glimpses of hope and moments in which I see God in this place; in these people. I see His image in the family who invited 13 of us strangers for dinner who refuse to let the cruel world they live in kill their kindness and love. I see it in the family who welcomes anyone to visit their farm and maintains the mission, “we refuse to be enemies.” I see it in the resilient organizers of acts of nonviolent resistance who are dibber at a checkpoint to protest delays and invited the soldiers to join them. I see it in the young Israelis who have dedicated their lives to seeking justice for Bedouin communities in the Negev.
Though there is immense pain and struggle, there is great hope and God is at work. Through our two week delegation we not only saw and heard of some of the darkest of humanity but some of the most beautiful. As Romans 5:4 says, “…suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope,” this is the spirit of resiliency that I witnessed in the Palestinian people.
This is a piece by one of the participants on the August delegation. Check out our delegation dates for Palestine next year!