|As the COVID-19 crisis deepens in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and Jordan we have widened the scope of our Bethlehem Coronavirus Shutdown Appeal to include all areas of the Holy Land. We have therefore launched our “FHL Pentecost Challenge”, a campaign with a limited time focus to ensure the Charity continues our activities and provide resources for immediate relief to our most vulnerable brothers and sisters devastated by this crisis. We have had many messages from our contacts in the Holy Land which have prompted this move. In his letter of 11 March to all international partners Archbishop Suheil Dawani has requested them to setup a special relief fund for all those Impacted by the crisis (read the full letter here). Sami El-Yousef, CEO of the Latin Patriarchate writes that the abrupt closure of all tourism related business caused unemployment to skyrocket, “The number of families in financial distress is exponentially rising and the number of requests received for social assistance has dramatically increased”.|
To help inspire us all to bring our maximum effort to bear behind this campaign, we are most fortunate that three long standing supporters of Friends of the Holy Land have together pledged to match donations to the FHL Pentecost Challenge up to £100,000 received by 31st May 2020. This will double your donation and the impact it will generate.
They have written to the Charity, ‘the Coronavirus pandemic is impacting FHL’s core fundraising activities in Parishes and FHL Groups as the country remains in lockdown. This is at the very time when funds are needed most to alleviate the devastating impact for our brothers and sisters across the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and Jordan. So, to give hope to all for a sustainable future we pledge to match fund donations with a value to FHL of up to £100K’. In a personal endorsement one sponsor writes that he was ‘moved to this initiative through his prayers to Our Lady of Palestine, and further requests that this initiative becomes a timely focus of prayer, which will hopefully mobilise FHL’s full potential, across England, Wales and Scotland.
Brendan Metcalfe, FHL Executive Director, says, “Many of our supporters have already responded most generously to our Appeal for which we are most grateful. The initial focus of the campaign to support the people of Bethlehem continues with the work of our office team on the ground and ALL monies donated up until 3rd April will provide assistance in that area. Going forward, we seek to also bring relief to Christians across the West Bank (including Bethlehem) and in Gaza, Israel and Jordan who have no social financial support to weather the economic storm in the year ahead in the event they survive the medical crisis.”
As a Charity, we rely on the generosity and support of our wonderful Christian communities in the UK, yet, sadly, in light of the restrictions on worship and gatherings imposed in the current situation, many of our planned church appeals, fundraising events and activities cannot go ahead over the coming months. We are keenly aware that there are challenging times ahead for us all and that many of you may have already contributed to the campaign. Our hope is that this match funding opportunity will inspire you to share our campaign as widely as possible with your network of friends, family and community as you catch up with them on the phone, online or using social media – the people you would typically have invited to such local events or sold raffle tickets. If we can each encourage 2 of our friends a week to register and donate even only £10 to our campaign, we would each generate £160, increasing to £320 with match funding.
Meanwhile we must continue to stand firm with those in the Holy Land, spreading greater awareness over here, praying for their welfare and looking forward to the time when pilgrims will return to be inspired by the Holy Sites and to give hope to the resilient Christian community.
You or your friends can donate as follows: