published on Apr 26, 2023
Middle East Ecumenical Delegation Day 7, April 25, 2023
Written by Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, General Minister and President
We woke a little earlier than usual today in order to drive into Northern West Bank to the town of Tulkaram. We met with some of our partners there. We drove further into the north, to the town of Atill, to witness the work they have done to build roads that farmers now use to bring their produce to market; to see the pump house they built to access water from an aquifer that required them to drill down 150 meters; and to see and sample the produce they grow on land tilled and harvested by the small village of 117 families.
As with all things in Palestine, these achievements are hard-won within a context of severe and unjust oppression. Hearing the stories of what has to be overcome in order to accomplish these things is both heartbreaking and inspiring. On days like this one, I can’t help but reflect on my privilege as an American and how often I eat my meals without any care or concern about where it came from or what had to be done to produce it. But it is also in days like this that I become very aware of how much our contributions to support our mission partners around the world matter to them; and what they do with it that literally changes the lives and prospects of the people they serve,
The young woman we met is a refugee herself but found a way to graduate with a Master’s degree in Engineering. Her first project was to oversee the building of that 15-kilometer road I referred to earlier, only then to oversee the construction of the pump house that now provides the water needed to grow those crops we saw and tasted. She is truly the definition of an unsung hero.
We also had a small taste of what people in the West Bank live with every day as we were detained at a Checkpoint. Palestinians drive on separate roads that lead from one checkpoint to another where they are subject to random searches or detainments. Being forced to show our passports multiple times on our drive from Bethlehem to Jerusalem served to remind us what occupation looks like every day for those who live here.
As I was leaving the pump house today, the man who spends his days and nights there, and whom I had never met, hugged me and kissed me and said in his broken English, “Any day, any week, any year you return, you are welcome here. You are my friend. We love the whole world.”
We love the whole world.
Let that serve as my true learning from this day.