An Outing with the Young Mother’s Group
I recently had the opportunity to take part in one of Musalaha’s women’s meetings. In order to meet, we drove into Area C, an Israeli-controlled area of the West Bank. It was the first time that I passed the checkpoint between Israel and Palestine. We drove down a street for both Palestinians and Israelis, but I learned that there are also streets where only Palestinians are allowed to drive, and others exclusively for Israelis. I learned how to differentiate between a Palestinian and an Israeli car by the color of their license plate.
We started by meeting in Talitha Kumi, a Protestant school for Palestinian children in the West Bank. From there, our line of cars followed Mary, one of the mothers in the group, to her agricultural farm in Area C, a plot of land surrounded by Israeli settlements. Once we arrived, our group of eight Israeli and Palestinian women immediately started chatting as their 16 children went off to play in the beautiful surroundings.
For me, having grown up in the countryside, visiting this farm with its many fig trees and grapevines was refreshing. At the same time, I heard stories about the challenges Mary’s family faces on their property. Palestinian farmers are often unable to work their land in a profitable way as they cannot connect to the main water grid that supplies surrounding Israeli settlements with water. They also are not allowed to build on their private property and attempts to build any permanent structures result in demolitions by the Israeli authorities.
After a shared meal, Mary’s husband George shared more about the history of the farm with us. He grew up helping his father take care of the farm, and he and his brothers took over after his father’s early death. In every word he spoke, I could sense his love for the land. He shared how he and his wife would plant small trees, and as they grew, it was like raising children, caring and nurturing them. When working on the farm, they feel a special closeness to God, and they understand what Jesus meant when he said, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5). George emphasized his words by gesturing at the vineyards around us.
I was deeply moved by George’s story of how Israeli settlers once came onto his property with iron bars, smashing apricot trees that he planted and raised, thus destroying his harvest. I was amazed that he shared how, through the Holy Spirit, he learned to love his enemies, and he no longer sees the Jewish people as enemies, but brothers and sisters in need of the Lord. Once, a settler who was vandalizing his property drove down into a muddy area and got stuck with his jeep. He felt the Holy Spirit calling him to help this man, so he went and assisted him out of the mud.
Now, Mary and George want to use their farm for God’s glory. When the harvest is ready, they invite people to come and pick fruit and take it to share with the needy.
For me, this meeting opened a whole new world. I received first-hand accounts of the conflict with information I had previously only read about from afar. The personal stories helped me grasp the complexity of this conflict. At the same time, it showed me that God can transform lives and change hearts, and in Him, both Israelis and Palestinians can fellowship in unity.
By Theresa, German volunteer