National Gathering 2017 Report
"We must not be blind to the 'Living Stones 'of the Holy Land"
Over 90 people attended our National Gathering in Kenilworth, held Sat 30 Oct at St Francis of Assisi Parish Centre. The ‘Day of Action’, in support of Christians living in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and Jordan, started with an ecumenical service led by Fr.Kevin Hooper. By the end of the day attendees had committed to raise awareness of the challenges faced by Christians in the Middle East through prayer, fundraising and pilgrimage.
Husam Wahhab, a lecturer at Bethlehem University and member of FHL’s Holy Land Committee,
gave a vivid account of the isolation felt by West Bank Christians. He spoke of
the continued exodus of fellow Christians, and highlighted the imminent danger that
the birthplace of Christianity, including the cities of Bethlehem and
Jerusalem, could soon have no Christian population at all. Husam stressed the
importance of UK Christians reaching out to their Christian family in the Middle East and
letting them know they are not forgotten saying:
“We need to see more than just stones in the Holy Land- we need to see the Living Stones.”
Husam described a life where water supply was never certain, where travel restrictions meant a visa is needed for a 10-minute drive to Jerusalem, and how the treatment of Christians in Iraq and Syria fill his community with fear. Husam said,
“Can our children cope with this life? The only thing that is predictable in our future is that it will be unpredictable. Christianity must not be politicised.”
Attendees were shocked that the challenges facing Christians in the West Bank appeared to be such a well-kept secret. Revd. Lynn Boyle, a seasoned Holy Land pilgrimage organiser, explained how even Christians living in East Jerusalem had little idea of the conditions faced by Christians living in Bethlehem saying;
“Their deepest desire, Muslim, Jew and Christian is to live without fear, and in peace with one another.”
Peter Rand Executive Trustee of the charity reported on the success of FHL in reaching these hard to reach Christian communities,
“Each year FHL supports over 2,000 named Christians living in the Middle East. In the last financial year, our donations have risen once again, enabling us to distribute grants of over £550,000 in the West Bank Gaza, Israel and Jordan – an increase of 22% on the previous year”.
To see a summary of the presentations made at the National Gathering click here
To see a summary of the actions 'The Way Forward', agreed by both attendees and FHL click here
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