Candles of Hope

years ago, Sabeel started the tradition of an annual solidarity trip to remote villages with a Christian presence in the West Bank. As of today, there are nine villages in the northern part of the West Bank with a minority indigenous Christian population, varying from one Christian up to 65 Christians. Because of the rising tensions and sectarian violence in the Middle East, we decided this year to bring together the clergy and their spouses and a group of young adults to give these isolated Christians more moral support. In Palestinian culture, the more guests visiting one’s home, the more support and status one gets in the village.

We all left the meeting point in Nablus and headed towards the villages with determination to empower the few Christians remaining in the villages. To our surprise, village after village, the testimonies the people shared with us were of perfect coexistence and unity among all the people living in the villages, regardless of their faith. For example, Em Saed, an elderly woman living in the Nus Jbail village, shared with us that all her Muslim neighbors cook for her and provide her with all necessary groceries. In fact, she is considered the “grandmother of the village.” Likewise, we learned that George, from the village of Jalameh, is considered the most popular and trusted building contractor in all the neighboring villages. He was actually handpicked to make renovations in the village mosque. Also Maria, from the village of Dier Ghazaleh, is getting married this summer and is planning to stay and start a new family in her village. At every village and with every person we visited, we were amazed by the power of love and coexistence we saw. On the bus trip home, the clergy and youth alike reflected on the day. When the sun rose in the morning, we were determined to empower these communities; but by sunset, we realized the opposite had happened—they had actually empowered us. We were strengthened by the witness of these candles of hope in every one of these villages.