While waiting for my apartment, I’m staying at my host’s family home. Dad’s a Baptist minister and the four kids are at various stages in their young lives, one works in Virginia, one is here as a restoration architect (funded only by US and European NGO’s, as there is no money here), one studying in St. Louis and one (my host) who at 28 has a degree from London, U of Chicago and is working on a PhD. Their dad grew up with 20 kids in 3 beds, so he built this in 2006 – about 4,000 sq ft. Their clan is relatively new in town, late 18th C.
Early for my meeting, I walked down to the Inter-Continental hotel for a coffee, originally built as a home by a Christian entrepreneur in the 19th century. It happens to be a block away from the ”security” wall (in background). I found gas bomb canisters, rubber bullet casings and stones – revealing last night’s encounter between the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and Palestinians.
I hooked up to chat with Rev Alex Awad, dean of students at Bethlehem Bible College. Alex was born in 1946 in Jerusalem, under the British mandate, is only permitted into Palestine on 3 year minister work permits, and will not be be able to retire in his homeland. Israel does not recognise him as a citizen, he is a non-person. Fortunately he has an American wife, and will be able to move to the states.
Alex mentioned the increase in settlement attacks. Last Saturday a pastor friend was driving in the West Bank with another pastor and his wife, heading up to a village to preach. They were attacked by settlers and believed that had they not quickly turned the car around, sped away, after being hit, they all would have been killed. You won’t see this in the news, like many of this kind.
Alex thanked us Presbyterians for having the courage to divest last month from the occupation. I thanked him for modelling for us steadfastness and patience in the midst of violence and persecution.