March 3: David (left) and Jonathan (not pictured) heard a presentation from the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights, a Palestinian Muslim organization, about issues regarding Israeli settlements and the discrimination Palestinians experience. After the presentation, the CMRT members traveled throughout Jerusalem. They made a brief visit to Golgotha and the Garden Tomb, as well as walking through the Old City and market for some time. They ended the day with a meal in the home of Country Representatives.
March 4: Jonathan (second from left) and David (not pictured) visited Nazareth Village, a first-century village/farm which sits on the side of the hill just below Nazareth Hospital (the hospital is supported by the Nazareth Project).
Jonathan and David (not pictured) toured Nazareth Village. Their guide was a Messianic Jew, Daniel. Jonathan, and David found his presentations, mostly based on parables from Luke, inspiring.
Jonathan wades in the Sea of Galilee on his way from the Nazareth Hospital back to Jerusalem. The route from Galilee to Jerusalem was along the Jordan River to Jericho, and then up to Jerusalem.
In the afternoon, Jonathan was picked up by Lawrence Hilditch (second from left), AISJ director, and his wife Rhoda (right), along with Stephan (left), a teacher, and his wife and daughter (not pictured), who welcomed them to the Anglican International School of Jerusalem (AISJ). Jonathan and David toured the school and had dinner with these workers afterwards.
March 5: David and Jonathan were invited to a breakfast with the Council of Local Evangelical Churches, hosted by president Reverend Munir Kakish. This group represents Palestinian Evangelical churches and organizations like Bethlehem Bible College (pictured) and Muslaha. This was their monthly meeting for prayer and fellowship, at which David was asked to speak. Jonathan and David also gave each person a full set of the "Christians Meeting Muslims" series as well as an Arabic copy of "A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue." Jonathan and David intended to encourage this group of pastors that walks a lonely path.
That evening, the Holy Land Trust invited David to speak to at a dialogue group. The leader is Sami Awad. The people in the group are leaders — Christian and Muslim decision makers in Bethlehem — including people from government, transportation, and even the local news anchor. David shared stories of interfaith dialogue and peacemaking. David felt the Spirit’s leading to present on the Mennonite-Iranian meetings. This was challenging for the group, since they are Sunnis and opposed to any thing Shia.
During the question and answer time, one man said something like this: "It’s very nice for you to come talk about peacemaking and your book is interesting; however, the real question is, ‘What are you doing in your country to influence your government towards peacemaking?’ Your government policies are the reason we have so many problems.” David responded with two stories: the first of Mennonites collecting signatures for a petition to not intervene in Iraq, and the second of his own visit to the Iran section chief in Washington to plead for dialogue with Iran.
At the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem, Salim Munayer (left) shared with the EMM Christian/Muslim Relations team his desire that Anabaptists reengage and increase their engagements with Palestinian Christians.
March 6: On Sunday, Jonathan and David worshipped at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City. Then they joined one of the MCC learning tour groups going to Canada Park. This park was build to cover up the location of the Israeli razing of three Palestinian villages in 1967. Jonathan and David were guided by another of MCC's partners, Zochot.
AISJ has recently taken charge of two small preschools. One serves mostly Jewish children, and one is for Palestinian children. The school for Palestinian preschoolers is primarily made up of children from Palestinian families who cannot find other schools willing to teach their children. Most of the children are of Muslim background, and have experienced some form of trauma.
March 7: David (not pictured), Jonathan (left), and Andres (behind Jonathan, right) joined another MCC learning tour to Hebron. This city most starkly reveals what life under occupation is like. A guide took David, Jonathan, and Andres on a tour of Abraham's Tomb and the attached mosque. The center of the old city is a ghost town, due to walls, checkpoints, and sections of streets where Palestinians are not allowed.
Soldiers were everywhere throughout the streets of Hebron, and settlers occupy blocks of housing within the city. In Hebron, Jonathan, Andres, and David also visited the Christian Peacemakers Team and heard a short presentation from their Palestinian team member.
March 7–10: The Christ at the Checkpoint Conference started with a pre-conference orientation session. David (left), Andres (second from left), and Jonathan (second from right) met with Bishop Tendero (right).
Andres (right), Jonathan (not pictured), and David (right) found that the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference was for peace, reconciliation, and God’s best. The conference was themed around a gospel response to the challenges in Israel-Palestine, particularly an issue that the worldwide church struggles with the world over: how to respond to religious extremism. The conference's basic thesis was that the gospel, in its entirety, empowers Christians and shows them the way.
March 10: MCC hosted a meal for all Mennonite-related groups participating in the conference; 34 people attended. The CMRT members were excited to meet authors whose books they have read, leaders in the global church, and partners in ministry.
Jonathan stands in front of a piece of graffiti created by street artist Banksy in Bethlehem.