We have just finished the busy month of July with two very blessed summer camps for young children. Our first camp was held July 8-12 in Zebabdeh, a Palestinian town in the northern West Bank. This camp was run by our Palestinian women leaders and youth leaders. Our team held activities and Bible studies for the children in the mornings and afternoons, and also had a special ministry for the mothers of this village during the camp. This special ministry sparked much interest in reconciliation and there is hope of forming a new women’s group in the Zebabdeh area. This camp not only impacted the lives of the children who attended, but also provided a forum for Christian unity among the different leaders of churches in the area who came to take part in the opening day of the camp. We thank you very much for praying for us to be a blessing not only to these children, but also to an entire community.
Just a few weeks later, we hosted our second camp at the Baptist Village in Petah Tikva, Israel for Israeli and Palestinian children. This camp provided young children of different backgrounds the opportunity to be “One” as was the theme of this camp. These children from the start were eager to meet children from the other side. As I went one day to visit the camp, a young Israeli boy ran up to Shadia and asked her in Hebrew, “How do you say, let’s play ‘Tag’ in Arabic?” The desire to learn the other’s language in order to communicate was something happening the entire week at camp. In the beginning, some of the children were timid to pray in their own language and by the end of the camp, they were almost competing as to who would pray in either Hebrew or Arabic. The Sudanese children very much helped to break the ice.
In recent years there has been an influx of refugees from South Sudan and Eritrea into the country and we have also welcomed these children into our camps. We have found these children to be a blessing as they serve as bridges between the Israeli and Palestinian children with their fluent Hebrew and Arabic. One Sudanese boy who attends Israeli schools, and speaks Arabic was eager to serve as a translator in his cabin. Having Israelis and Palestinians together with Sudanese and Eritrean children helped break down many prejudices as they built relationships with each other and saw themselves as “One.”
This oneness was demonstrated to the children by their camp counselors. One of the highlights for me was seeing the heart of the young counselors and their dedication to reconciliation.
We asked that you keep these young leaders’ in your prayers as many of them will be heading to Germany with us for the Historical Narrative Training Seminar this September 19-23. Pray for Evan and Maala Thomas and myself as we prepare for teaching one of the most difficult issues in reconciliation and for these young adults as they continue on their journey of reconciliation.
We ask that you also keep our Muslim and Christian Lawyers in your prayers as they head to the Dead Sea this August 15-18 for follow-up seminars in strengthening their role as mediators and building bridges in their local communities.
Last, I will be travelling to the UK this August 29-September 9. If you would like for me to speak in your church or to your group, please write to the Rev. Steve Openshaw at email@example.com, who is also the head of Friends of Musalaha UK.
Again, thank you for your faithful prayers for our summer camps. Please continue to pray for our upcoming activities and the continual work of reconciliation.
Salim J. Munayer, Ph.D