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Yoel's Story...

I was born in Israel and lived here until three years before living all round the world. My dad worked in the hotel industry, so we were always traveling. I came back to Israel when I was 18 and met my wife. 

My mum is Moroccan tradition Jewish, so not really religious. My dad was born in England, but raised in Scotland. He cam to Israel in the mid-1970s. 

I found out about Jesus here in Israel. In England as a teenager I was doing a lot of searching, reading and wanting to find out about the truth. I read the Quran. Then one evening in my room with the Quran in my hand, I asked God to reveal himself and I had a vision of Jesus. I was freaked out! I thought I was going mad, so I didn't tell anyone about it. And I was taking drugs at the time so thought it must have been that.

When I met my wife in Israel we became very religious. I served in the army in the Head Rabbinical Core, the equivalent of a chaplaincy. During the war we were in charge of collecting and burying the dead in the right way according to Jewish law. But we weren't at war at the time, so I had a lot of time on my hands.

This is when my friend asked me to read the Jewish Bible, but without interpretation. My wife and I read it all the way through, and when I got to Isaiah 53, I wanted to know what it was about. My friend who was a follower of Jesus told me all about him. At this point, under my breath, I asked God to guide me and show me what is true. And I had the same vision of Jesus as I'd had in my room when I was 18. After reading Matthew's Gospel, I began following Jesus. 

I've heard about reconciliation for years, and about Musalaha, but always from afar. I never really spent time thinking about it as it is often seen like something you could get into if you're interested. It sounded great but I never saw the theological importance of reconciliation or the urgency of it until I started to read Through My Enemy's Eyes. Then I really started to think about it and realized, hang on, this isn't just an optional extra. This is a reality we need to be dealing with. 

Some people think we will never have peace and sort out reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. But I know we each have to take responsibility for the situation of the Palestinians. We have dispossessed them from their homes and lied about the past. I felt a responsibility for that even though I wasn't a part of it.

What really helped was when we had a devotional on John 17 and it talked about the importance of the unity between the body of Christ, the importance of love to join us together so that people can see God. I think that for the first time, I realized that it's essential for us as the body of the Messiah to be one in the land, and that people can know Jesus through reconciliation. That took my heart for the plight of the people and connected it with something I can do. 

Reconciliation is something bigger than just people who hate each other and making them friends. It represents the heart of God. That's why I love Musalaha. They are the only people who are actually doing it.

That my realization has been so recent shocks me. I've been asleep on the job as it were. I've committed to see all of the Palestinians I have met, both in Israel and the West Bank. I think it's important because I need to see, experience, and hear, as I think it's really important to ask questions of justice. I really learnt about the communal nature of the Palestinian church. With Israelis, it's "Me and God," but with them, it's "Us and God." It's really insightful to understand them. We need to give place to every single culture. 

Sometimes we think about questions of justice but aren't comfortable asking them out loud. But we have to be Christ right now. Without Musalaha none of this would have taken place. We would barely be conscious about this.