Pardon my musings, but I wake some mornings with this awesome feeling, a spiritual call to speak.
I share this with you because I feel some measure of selfishness that I get to experience the exhilarating moments of our work in the life of the project that reassures me that we are on the right path, though narrow it seems at times.
There are many of those moments, especially on tours with Daoud, when I am a witness to moments of awe. Here are three of those moments when I was alone, but not really. I was just a pedestrian in the room or at least I thought I was.
The first of these times came before the destruction of the trees in the valley in May of 2014. I was contacted by an American Jewish woman living now in Brussels who wanted to lead a group of American and european Jews to the Tent of Nations. She had been there herself. We talked frequently over the year about how to organize a trip and spoke with Daoud about dates and such.
I didn’t hear from her until after the destruction of trees in May of 2014. She was leading a group in early 2015 and wanted to help replant the trees in the valley. That solidarity and initiative was inspiring to me and no doubt to the Nassars also. In that case Israeli Jewish soldiers destroyed the trees, and volunteers from the Center for Jewish Non-violence came and replanted them!
Along with other groups that winter, volunteers more than doubled the number of trees that were destroyed. What a moment!
The second incident came during the end of a long two days of hearing testimony at the Middle East Issues committee of the 2014 Presbyterian General Assembly in Detroit. I was seated at the back of the room with more than two hundred others, when I heard a pastor from a church in Texas rise to speak at the podium. It was a time when commissioners, on their own initiative could offer a resolution which if it were passed by the committee could go to plenary session and be approved by acclamation.
When the speaker mentioned the Tent of Nations in his proposal, it got my attention. As he described the project and the Nassar’s battle to maintain their ancestral lands through various acts of non-violent resistance to the restrictions on their basic human rights and sense of dignity, tears came from nowhere from me and rolled down my cheek. And then Mark Braverman, also a co-founder of Fotonna, came and stood beside me with his hand on my shoulder. It was a special time because we shared a moment that reflected the presence of fruit on a small tree that often seemed so barren.
And finally, as I may have mentioned to you already, I was seated at the back of the meeting of the Israel/Palestine Mission Conference/meeting in Chicago recently during the awarding of grants to worthy mission projects. One of those happened to be from a small church in Tecumseh, MI. that wished to support a project at Tent of Nations. Some members had gone on a tour the previous summer and visited the TON and wished to contribute to an activity at the Bent Al Reef Women’s Center. Kay suggested that they support the women’s project in the village through the publication of their Recipe Book.
The team from the church submitted an application for a grant with IPMN, and were one of four out of 13 applications that was funded. Other than consulting along the way with questions they had, they wrote the grant. We had no influence at all on grants that were selected. Frankly, I didn’t think that they had a chance because of their competition. There were many worth applicants.
And then, again as I was seated at the back of the room, the committee chair announced that the First Presbyterian Church from Tecumseh had received a grant for the full $2,000.00 they had requested. She then read the background of the proposal, and there were “oos and ahhhs” from the audience. It was another one of the miracle moments. Another seed planted because the church members had followed the advice given in Matthew 28:1-10, “Come and See, and then Go and Tell.
Reminders of those three incidents make me rise again on another day. I hope you feel a part of those experiences in some personal way. You are an awesome group and I am in awe not only of a God who cares through these stories above, but because of who you are. As Daoud says, “thank you for your solidarity”.
Love and peace, BiLL