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Published February 2020
By Paul Estabrooks

Two other Londoners and I returned last November from a HOPE Outreach of Canada two-week mission trip to Israel made up of fourteen Canadians. This trip allowed participants to interact with local people and ministries, particularly on the Palestinian side of the dividing wall…ministries addressing issues of Christian education, peace, justice, and reconciliation, empowering women, as well as caring for the poor and marginalized.

The group was based at the guest house at Bethlehem Bible College which was celebrating 40 years of God’s faithfulness. The College is currently impacting more than 200 students including a new on-line program reaching more than 20 Arabic speaking countries. Their goal is to transform the hearts of students as well as their intellect. A group of their students and faculty had just returned from another ministry visit among the Syrian refugees in neighboring Jordan. The College’s humanitarian arm, The Shepherd Society, was preparing 400 Christmas food baskets for needy families in the area.

Time at the College allowed for featured lectures with faculty members to give biblical, historical and cultural insights relevant to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict and the local indigenous church as well as reconciliation ministries. The program also included biblical site visits in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Hebron, Nazareth, Galilee, Jericho and more, but most important was the opportunity to meet, interact with, and encourage a variety of local Christians—the “living stones” of the Holy Land.

The team agreed it was a full and exciting trip. One of the Canadian travellers said, “What struck us immediately upon arrival was the oppression of the Palestinians with the massive concrete wall in North Bethlehem and frequent checkpoints that the Israelis use to control the movement of the Palestinian people. Having the opportunity to see some of the reconciliation work from a Christian perspective, as well as the work with women and children’s groups provided hope at the grassroots level that possible change can happen.”

We participated in craft activity and singing with special needs kids at House of Hope; visited a family whose home on their own property had been bulldozed and later aided by the Holy Land Trust rebuilding project; helped pick olives for a Palestinian farming family; visited Tent of Nations (a harassed Christian Palestinian farm with an entrance sign, “We Refuse To Be Enemies”); and spent part of a morning working with the disabled young people at L’Arche. We left financial love gifts with all of the ministries we visited and encouraged.

Sami Awad is the founder of the non-violence movement under Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem. He said, “How does all this fit into our faith? If Jesus were here, would He stand with the marginalized, and against the occupiers? No, Jesus never stands against anyone. Jesus calls us to love. The concept of loving one’s enemy only exists in Christianity. How many of us really do so? Loving one’s enemy is a command. Think of Jesus’ life and the Roman oppression in His society? It was probably even more difficult for Him.”

One of the London travellers was deeply impacted by the farewell words of Bethlehem Bible College President, Dr. Jack Sara: “Please leave here with a new love for Jews and Palestinians, and a commitment to pray for both.” Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and pray for the peace of Bethlehem!

Join me in late May 2020 for another Journey Through The Bible with an option at the end to stay for the “Christ At The Checkpoint” conference at Bethlehem Bible College in early June. Information here:,

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