Palestinian, Israeli and American Women: United in Prayer
In Israel and the West Bank, an organization called Musalaha (Arabic for Reconciliation) brings together Israelis and Palestinians who are committed to establishing relationships of trust and friendship so they can become agents of reconciliation impacting their respective communities. On several trips to the Holy Land I have met with women of Musalaha. One memorable meeting is captured in an earlier blog. Following the discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli teens recently murdered, the Musalaha website published this note from Palestinian Christian, Shireen Awad Hilil, Coordinator of Musalaha Women’s Department, West Bank:
We, as the Palestinian Sisters involved in Musalaha, want to express our condolences on the loss of life of three young Israelis and the pain that their families and communities are feeling. We have been, until now, standing with you in prayer, awaiting the return of the young men, and some of the ladies have been in touch to express that commitment. We are committed to staying in relationship with you and will continue in our path of peace and reconciliation. The Palestinian women of Musalaha do not condone any acts of violence and honor life and peace together with the Israeli people.
Hedva Haymov, a Messianic Jew (Jewish follower of Jesus), Director of the Women’s Department for Musalaha in Israel, added these words:
I was greatly troubled throughout this ordeal of searching for 3 young men. We have prayed daily in the office for innocent victims of the latest tragedy. I, and the women of Musalaha in Israel, also send our condolences to the families who lost lives on both sides. We seek and will continue to move towards peace with our brothers and sisters in the Body of Messiah. We feel the pain of all families, either Palestinian or Israeli, who have suffered throughout this rise in the cycle of violence. Our condolences are sent out to both communities.
Let our discussion in these heated days be not of retribution, but of reconciliation. Let us refrain from joining the crowds around us calling for blood and call instead on the One who has made peace between us.
Let us push forward even harder and faster for the good of each other and the opportunity to bless each other.
Then Hedva added these words to her Palestinian and Israeli friends: I welcome you to join together in prayer on the 11th of July from 9am until 1pm.
In follow-up emails with Shireen and Hedva, I’ve discovered that on Friday, July 11, there will be gatherings of Israeli and Palestinian women (Israeli Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians) scattered throughout Israel and the West Bank, joined together in prayer.
Shireen and Hedva have invited us, American women committed to Jesus and to peace, to join them on prayer on Friday.
The women in Israel and the West Bank will begin fasting on Thursday night, join together for prayer on Friday from 9am to 1pm, and end their time together with lunch before heading home.
Hedva sent these requests for prayer:
- A calming of spirits and cessation of violence
- A just and lasting peace
- All murderers to be brought to justice
- All violence to be stopped
- That we will be a calming influence in our communities
- That if we have to suffer, we do so out of no fault of our own, and have the courage to face it
- That the volunteers coming to work at the summer camps will be kept safe
- That the children attending our summer camps will be safe
- That the words we speak will be full of grace
- That God will hear our prayers
To Hedva's prayer list, I add the names of Israeli and Palestinian friends I've gotten to know through numerous trips to the region, many of whom live in regions under violent attack right now. People from France, Holland, UK, Australia and others have committed to join in the Friday prayers. Let’s add American women to that list! Since Hedva and Shireel wrote the words I quoted earlier, violence in their land has escalated, along with fear and division. The voices of those who work and pray for reconciliation and the cessation of violence have become increasingly important. Let’s join them, to make their voices stronger. Together or in small groups, let’s commit a portion of time on Friday July 11, to fast and pray for and with our Israeli and Palestinian sisters. Some of you may want to chart the time difference and pray "live" with our Middle Eastern friends. Others may choose to pray according to your own time zone, thus spreading global prayers throughout the day.
I know of many Muslims and Jews also committing themselves and their communities to prayers for the cessation of violence in the Holy Land. I am grateful for them.
I will add updates from Hevda and Shireen as I receive them.