As we reflect on 2015, we see that many new things happened in the political arena, as well as continued outbreaks of violence in our land. If we only read the headlines it would be easy to find this very depressing, but if we dig a little deeper we can see the hopeful and inspiring events taking place among people here.

In Musalaha, we saw many new relationships formed and reconciliation training implemented. We are pleased to report that we fulfilled many of the goals we set, often exceeding our own expectations in the different projects we planned. We acknowledge this not to boast of our accomplishments, but to share our gratitude to God, and to you, our faithful prayer supporters and volunteers who helped us accomplish these goals.

There are people in our midst who are responding to the challenges and rising up against the pressures, by meeting, praying, and fellowshipping with the other side. We saw new and concerted efforts to do this among young people and women in particular, which greatly encouraged us.

As we prepare to enter a new year, let me share some of our plans for 2016. We have the opportunity to be involved in two new projects to address the needs of people in Israeli and Palestinian societies.

First, due to the political radicalization within our region, many Muslims and Christians we work with want to meet and address their grievances as they see the urgent need to counter radicalization. Following the conflict in Gaza in 2014 and the Israeli elections in 2015, a group of previously uninvolved Israeli Jewish educators approached us and said, “We need to do something. We don’t trust our political leaders, and we are no longer willing to be silent; we need to think about our children’s futures.” These educators contacted us, despite our identity as a faith-based organization, and asked us if we could help them to meet with Palestinian educators.

After much work and preparation, a women’s group of Palestinian and Israeli educators and professionals from East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem, and Bethlehem will meet for the first time January 1-3, 2016. The success of this group can have a tremendous impact on our society.

Second, we were invited to be part of Mosaica, an Israeli-Jewish umbrella organization that brings together other organizations to foster understanding and promote conflict transformation. As you know, most of our work in Israeli society is among Messianic Jews and secondarily with secular Jews.  Often, religious Jewish groups have chosen not to partner with us as a result of our faith-based approach to reconciliation. Due to the success of our Curriculum of Reconciliation and our unique approach to the reconciliation process as detailed in our Stages of Reconciliation, Mosaica invited us to partner with them in 2016. This is the first time we will be working with a religious Jewish organization.

We were invited, along with many other reconciliation and peacebuilding organizations, to contribute one week of teaching, which will take place this coming February. Our contribution will be to provide instruction on the topic of conflict, from the Musalaha Curriculum of Reconciliation. This will be published on the Mosaica website in Hebrew and Arabic as a resource for other organizations. 

Both of these endeavors challenge and encourage us to reach out to other segments of our societies. We would like to thank you for your faithful contributions and prayers. We see that our distinctiveness is bearing fruit, but we are limited in our capacity. Please continue to intercede on our behalf for project managers, youth leaders, and more qualified staff to meet these new and exciting challenges.

We would like to encourage you to not only see the people and the situation here through the eyes of the media but also through the eyes of the Creator of this world who is constantly working through his people.

By Salim J. Munayer, Ph.D.