Sunday, December 03, 2006

Peace in the Middle East

In this Advent season the hearts of those who follow in the way of Jesus can't but feel ambivalence as we celebrate the coming of the world's lord and saviour to bring "peace on earth" and "goodwill to all humanity" and then must acknowledge our shortcomings in not doing all we can to make this dream of God, which God has entrusted to us, a reality. Kid Cultivators' Love Your Neighbor Advent Campaign is just one small way we might make God's missional hopes come true.

Two summers ago I met a young man, Elias D'eis, at a Peace Workshop. Elias is a 20-something-year-old Palestinian from a town you might recognize, Bethlehem (of Judea). He is working to bring about peace in his homeland through his social service work with children and entrepreneurial work with young adults. Peace is more difficult than most of us are even capable of imagining when everyday those who live in the region must wake up and face the very real possibility that some member of their household will not return home that evening. Can you imagine? As I heard him tell his story my heart broke. We were sitting in a circle sharing what we were grateful for as we brought our Peace Workshop to a close. I will never forget that Elias thanked us for giving him a brief space in time where he could feel safe and know hope. I want to invite us to help Elias provide moments of safety and hope for other Palestinian and Israeli children.

The concept is simple, yet unique. We are inviting you and your constituencies to give a monetary gift that is a multiple of 12 ($120... $240... $360...). Why 12? Because for every $12 dollars, $6 will purchase a gift for a Palestinian child who frequents the YMCA where Elias works and the other $6 will purchase a gift for that Palestinian child to give to an Israeli child. Imagine with me the goodwill that might be engendered should the next generation of Israeli and Palestinian children grow up giving gifts to one another. Imagine further how the cause of peace would be abetted should these young people become pen pals sharing their lives with each other. The opportunity to be a small part of embracing Israel and Palestine in the peace and goodwill that the birth of Jesus was intended to hail brings tears to my eyes.

Kid Cultivators will take donations by check (payable to Kid Cultivators) or online via PayPal. All donations should be received by Monday, 18 Dec. Tuesday the 19th we will transfer all funds to Elias (c/o the East Jerusalem YMCA). Gifts will be purchased in Palestine whose economy has been devastated by the continued strife and distrust in the region. The gifts for Israeli children will be olive wood carvings made by young adult Palestinian artisans who have embraced hand-craft (which Elias markets and sells for them) in a desperate attempt to etch out an honest, peaceful living in an economy with few options. In this way our help becomes truly contextual and maybe even prophetic. Gifts for the Palestinian children will be distributed at their YMCA's annual Christmas party, 23 Dec. Gifts for Israeli children will be delivered shortly thereafter.

Will you join me? Make your donation online.


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