From the "Swiss cheese" designs of a walled-in country, we visited an organization on Wednesday called "Sabeel." The executive with whom we spoke was Nura. For seventeen years she has been working with the Sabeel organization. Sabeel is an Arabic word meaning "the way" or "a spring of life-giving water." Before people were called Christian, they were known as people of the "Way." Nura spoke of Palestinians as being the first Christians, reminding us that Jesus had been a Palestinian Jew.
Sabeel seeks to promote international awareness of the concerns of Palestinian Christians and their brothers and sisters. The Sabeel organization is an ecumenical, grass-roots, theological movement among Palestinian Christians. Nura stated that the goal is to live out belief in Christ and help others to be firm, loyal Christians who serve as witnesses and followers of the risen Jesus Christ by embracing the message of love in a land of conflicts.
She asked the question "What does God want?" and "What does God want for this part of the world?" This organization serves as a refuge for people who want to question God's purpose. Answering, she tells people, "We, Palestinians and Jews, are not excluded from God's purpose." Sabeel practices a theology of compassion in which it hopes to one day see a wrong rectified, but not with another wrong. In the case of Palestinians, international law is not being followed.
Sabeel offers programs/ministries for youth, the clergy, women and couples, reminding us that less than 2 percent of Palestinians are Christians. The organization has a large international, ecumenical following in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Since 1996, there have been over 32 regional conferences in the United States. There is much to be done in trying to give hope by providing day camps for youths, breaking down social barriers, promoting volunteerism, and developing leadership, etc. Projects and activities take place in the Galilee, Nazareth, and Jerusalem. From July 21st to August 1st 2010, they will be sponsoring an international youth conference (the 5th one).
Finally, Nura, born a Palestinian in Jerusalem, has an Israeli identity card. She was a refugee in Jordan and she holds a Jordanian passport. She also holds a travel document which is renewable every three years. Somewhere in this process, one should be able to see that a violation of human rights is something that Palestinians encounter every day. There is great need for organizations such as the ones we have visited to be able to bear witness to events occurring in every day life. We have a duty to speak truth about what we see.