Update from Daoud Nassar
Dear Friends of Tent of Nations:
In this season of Advent, a time of hopeful waiting and preparation, we light the advent candles as a reminder of the light that will outshine the darkness of our world. We continue to walk with faith, love, and hope as we “pass through the valley of tears and make it a place of springs.” We shall recognize God’s loving embrace and protection over us, which gives us the strength to persevere in His mission. Although we are burdened with a big weight, we shall be reminded to keep our hearts open for the good news, which is the true meaning of this season.
As we approach the end of the year 2022, we mark 32 years in an ongoing legal battle to protect the Tent of Nations farm from the danger of confiscation. In the November 21 court session regarding the re-registration of our farm, we were informed that the next and hopefully final hearing has been scheduled for January 16, 2023. We covet your prayers for an outcome that recognizes our ownership of these ancestral lands. We will update you about advocacy actions that are needed, by the beginning of January. We will keep knocking on the doors until justice prevails.
Despite all the challenges that we are facing in our long struggle to justice, we have been blessed by the steady increase of international guests visiting the farm in the last few months–who came to see, and we hope, returned home motivated to tell the story of what they experienced.
We are very grateful to have been able to host international volunteers at the Tent of Nations since February of 2022, coming to live and work on the farm for intervals of a week and up to three months. We are blessed by the presence of volunteers at the Tent of Nations and express our sincere thanks and appreciation for all their help and support. It brings us so much hope to see the farm becoming livelier. The highlight of this year was our series of harvest camps at the Tent of Nations–volunteers helped with the almond, grape, fig, and most recently the olive harvest.
At this time, we are continuing to repair the damage to our infrastructure, caused by vandals. There is a long way to go. However, we are determined to keep moving forward by working on transforming our frustration and pain, to bring about constructive and positive changes.
We wish you a joyful Christmas season and a wonderful start to the new year, a year full of faith, love, and hope. We pray that the coming light will renew our and your strength for the coming year to carry on and continue to work for justice as witnesses for this light to all people.
Blessings and Salaam,
Director, Tent of Nations
A Message from the FOTONNA Steering Committee Chair
This past month and a half, two members of our Advisory Council and five of our ten Steering Committee members were able to be with the Nassars on the farm. Several of us spent time on the farm–planting and watering grapes; picking, pruning and fertilizing olive trees; and enjoying the gift of the land. During the week I volunteered, there were 2-4 groups every day coming to see and hear the story of the farm, sometimes up to one hundred people a day (and a lot of cooking for Daoud’s wife, Jihan, the saint behind the scenes). It is encouraging to think that each one of those international visitors takes a part of the farm, a part of the Nassar family, and a part of the Palestinian story home with them to share.
One of the things I took home with me this time was a simple comment that Jihan Nassar made as we traveled to the farm packed among suitcases and seven of us in the Land Rover. To paraphrase: “We are truly so thankful for the support we receive from visitors to the farm and especially volunteers on the farm. There is just no way, however, that it’s possible for any visitor or volunteer to understand what life is like here unless you live it day by day.” I understood what she was saying – I understand that I cannot really understand without being Palestinian. But what I can understand is a quote I found on a Good Earth tea bag, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
Which draws me to an insight by Zoughbi Zoughbi that the 21 member “Meeting Peacemakers” team I was part of was given before departing for home. Zouhgbi piggybacked on what the 5th century priest, St. Jerome, said about the fifth gospel – beyond Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, there is a fifth gospel which is coming and seeing the land and the people in Palestine and Israel. “I see,” said Zoughbi in an aha moment, “that there is a sixth gospel as well. Those of you who have come and seen are now charged to go and tell what you’ve observed and experienced.”
The story takes on new life and urgency as we share it with those around us, including our elected officials who are in a position of pressing State Department and Israeli authorities for re-registration. For eyes to be opened, minds expanded, and hearts enlarged, our congressional leaders and their constituents need to hear what we’ve seen and experienced.
We on the Steering Committee thank you for doing your part in living out the sixth gospel which strengthens the case for re-registration for the Nassar farm and for justice to prevail for all Palestinians. Gifts from friends like you will make the Tent of Nations’ work possible in the coming year. We are grateful for your ongoing generosity.
May this time of “Advent waiting” be filled with riches for you, as we long for the birth of a world in which Love is all.
Together in solidarity with you and the Nassars,
Chair of the FOTONNA Steering Committee
At this time, we are not requesting specific advocacy action. Daoud and his lawyer
are preparing for the January 16 re-registration hearing. We are deeply grateful for your past responses to our calls for action. We ask for your prayers for protection of the Nassar family and all Palestinians facing a time of increasing humiliation and hardship.
Friends of Tent of Nations Steering Committee
2022 – A Year of Repair and Resurgence at TON
What a year it has been for Tent of Nations and the Nassar family. The destruction to the terraces, trees, and infrastructure of the farm, as well as physical attack on Daoud and his brother Daher have been devastating. The continual delays in the re-registration process have brought added frustration.
But, your continuing generosity of heart, your prayers, the return of visitors and volunteers, and your financial gifts have allowed the process of repair to begin.
Your gifts this year have helped restore the Tent of Nations in the following ways:
- One thousand new fruit and olive trees, and grape vines have been planted.
- A new vineyard of 200 table grape vines was established.
- Several of the structures damaged by vandals have been repaired and are in use again.
- A small restroom for night-time use was built near the guest quarters.
- Several groups of youth, children, and adults were hosted for one to three-day experiences on the farm.
- Four week-long harvest camps were held.
- Daoud shared the family’s story of persistence and non-violent resistance with hundreds of visiting pilgrims.
- The legal battle has continued.
Looking Ahead to 2023:
The hopes and plans for TON include:
- Planting, staking, and watering new wine grape vines.
- Rebuilding one of the destroyed volunteer campsites to include lodging, water, electrical, and restroom access
- Re-instituting the children’s summer camp and short-term experiences for women at the
- Re-focusing on additional technologies that can contribute to the farm’s sustainability and self-sufficiency.
We invite your participation in bringing these dreams into being–through your presence, your gifts, and your prayers. While all of these are important, your financial gifts indeed make a difference for the continuing work of the farm. Click here for information about ways to give, including an online giving option through PayPal. We thank you for continuing with us on this journey.
FOTONNA Tour Planning and Finance Co-Director
“Why are Palestinian Christians Leaving Jesus’ Birthplace?” features Daoud and Jihan Nassar telling the TON story along with their pastor, Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac of Christmas Lutheran Church in
Bethlehem, and other Palestinian Christians. Check it out!
The video, by Dena Takruri, an American Palestinian journalist, was posted on YouTube
December 5, 2022. If you are looking for a great way to share the story of Tent of Nations, this video provides one.
Loving Acts of Kindness
Our FOTONNA Steering Committee wishes you a blessed holiday season. Thank you for all the ways that you are leaning into the wind, walking with the Nassars on their “journey for justice with faith, love, and hope in action.”
FOTONNA Steering Committee Communications Team