In late 2009 I accompanied a group from the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) on an informational visit to Israel and Palestine in conjunction with Global Ministries, the foreign mission agency shared by the two denominations.
Many of the trip participants were also sponsors of school-aged children in East Jerusalem via Global Ministries’ Child Sponsorship program. For these people, the trip was especially meaningful as they were able to meet their sponsored child face-to-face and see the school.
The trip was also a chance to see the beauty and conflict that is Israel and Palestine. Peter Makari, Global Ministries executive for the Middle East and Europe, was the group leader along with very a knowledgeable local guide, a Palestinian Christian also named Peter (second Peter…)
Along with visiting traditional Christian holy sites, the group was exposed to many of the details surrounding the Israel/Palestine conflict and hostilities – the separation wall, Israeli settlements (along with Palestinian home evictions), and attempts at peacemaking in this often troubled land.