Journeying for Justice by Faith

Gaililee Jumping

In the summer of 2013 an idea formed. What would it look like to train young adults to lead other young adults on trips to the Holy Land? This idea became a reality when sixteen young adults from various synods and regions traveled to Israel and Palestine in January of 2014. This project we made possible through a collaboration with ELCA Young Adult Ministry and the ELCA’s Peace Not Walls Campaign.

The goal was simple: to train young adults to lead their peers on accompaniment journeys and help connect their global experience with their local reality. Specifically, this project endeavored to:

  1. Accompany local Lutherans and Christians in Israel and Palestine;
  2. Educate participants about the conflict in Israel and Palestine;
  3. Share the religious, political and social history of the region;
  4. Deepen faith and identity of travelers as they build relationships with global companions and neighbors;
  5. Connect participants with the ELCA’s efforts through the Peace Not Walls Campaign by practicing accompaniment, raising awareness and engaging in advocacy;
  6. Build a base of individuals who not only travel but return home to engage their local contexts in issues of peace and justice.

In 2005, the ELCA Church Council adopted a Churchwide Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine. The strategy is now in its eighth year of implementation through the Peace Not Walls Campaign. This campaign lives out its purpose through practicing accompaniment, building awareness and inviting individuals and congregations to engage in advocacy. The goal of this project is to aid in meeting the eight highlighted tasks of the strategy by inviting young adults to connect to this church’s efforts by providing a space where justice and faith collide for the purpose of forming faith and developing leaders.

Young adults are often said to be missing from our communal life of faith. This means that people don’t see them in traditional spaces. However, young adults throughout our society are actively engaged in issues of peace and justice and the ELCA has numerous opportunities, strategies and campaigns that speak to this reality. However, the one thing that make us different from other social justice organizations is our faith – our believe in a Triune God who became incarnate in the person of Jesus. This project is not about just enlightening young adults to social, political, historical and cultural realties. This project is not about just about engaging young adults in advocacy efforts. This project is not just about building relationships. This project is about deepening faith and connecting ones beliefs to ones actions in the world.

“The Ministry of traveling is a pilgrimage. It is a journey of people living and loving together. It is a way that goes on foot, alone, in company, in tents, for peace, for justice, by grace. Through faith. This journey is open to you. Love and wonder and praise is our reason to go.” – Adapted from a quote by Pastor Herb Brokering

This year, a total of 8 trips have been planned with one already having gone and returned (LaCrosse Area Synod). The initial model was for trips to be synodically or regionally based, but now, the remaining 7 trips are open to young adults across the country. On this site you will find descriptions of each trip, dates, information about leaders and the goals of each experience. These trips are designed for people who have graduated high school and are between the ages of 18 and 30. Please share the word far and wide. The deadline to sign up is February 28, 2015.

So here’s the ask:

  • Check out each of the trips.
  • See which one works best for you.
  • Read over the specific trip goals.
  • Contact the trip leaders for more information and to sign up. That’s it!

Contact Us if you have any questions. We hope you consider joining this movement of young adult faith-based justice seekers.

Dinner in Bethlehem

The story of a farmer

His hands were rough and worn from years of working the soil. His face was weathered and forever kissed by the warm desert sun that blanketed the hills of South Hebron. He reminded me of my grandfather, who, too, carried his story in the palm of his hands. Amidst his silence was a sense of deep passion and steadfastness for his land and his people. He, like my grandfather, was a farmer, a shepherd, and a steward of the earth. Continue reading

Belated Blogging and Intentionality

I was supposed to have written this blog last week, however, I did not have the proper words to express my experiences and the thoughts and emotions affiliated with them. When I write and speak, I like to convey my ideas through very intentional words; sometimes, this intentional articulation takes time to develop, as is the case with this post. Continue reading

Biting My Tongue

I tend to bite my tongue. And when I say this I mean that I tend to prevent myself from speaking but I also mean that I do it by literally chewing on my tongue as a manner to stay calm when I am distressed. And it was one thing to feel intense discomfort walking the emptied streets of Hebron, facing large groups of soldiers filling spaces where Palestinians are no longer allowed. But that night back in Jerusalem with our group, people who I cherish and among whom I feel safe and valued, I found myself again biting my tongue, refusing the opportunity to say anything as the words I could not find stayed shut behind anxious teeth lined up like so many rusting store fronts in occupied Hebron. Continue reading

AVH: Putting the Hospital in Hospitality – and More

The sweet 16 had the opportunity to step into my world for a day and become better acquainted with the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH). Housed in a historical stone structure, this building served many purposes before being acquired as a center of care for Palestinian refugees in 1948 by the Lutheran World Federation.

Since that time, AVH has transitioned from a secondary care hospital to a leader in specialized medicine including but not limited to cancer treatment, radiology, hematology, nephrology, and diabetes care, offering the only services in Palestinian territories in cancer radiation therapy and pediatric kidney dialysis. On any given day 320 AVH staff operate 102 of the 170 beds available, providing a standard of care that recently earned the Hopsital accreditation by The Joint Commission International, the most prominent health care accreditor in the U.S. AVH is the only hospital with such a designation in all of Israel and Palestine. Continue reading

identity and assumption

Identity.  We all have an identity.  We all have different narratives that help us to define our individual identities.  Some parts of our identity we do not choose.  Others we readily lay claim to.

Assumptions.  As with identity, so too do we all have our assumptions.  Our personal narratives inform our assumptions about ourselves and each other.  Sometimes the world around us assigns us both our identities and our assumptions.  Sometimes we do not realize how quickly we jump to believing our assumptions are realities.  But what if that were not the case? Continue reading