The First Church in Albany. Rooted in Jesus Christ and committed to the city and the people of Albany, New York.
Pastor John Paarlberg will be in Palestine and Israel January 11-24, participating in a study tour, “Popular Resistance and Liberation Theology,” sponsored by Friends of Sabeel, a Christian ecumenical organization seeking justice and peace in the Holy Land through non-violence and education.
Here is an update of his study tour.
Life is hard, often very hard for Palestinians living under occupation. They watch their land being confiscated, their homes demolished, their stores and businesses closed, their children arrested, their loved ones injured or killed. And they have little power to stop it. "If we cannot (for now) end the occupation," one man told us, "we can at least keep our identity, our sanity, our dignity."
Professor Mazin B. Qumsiyeh writes, "Palestinians resist by simply living in their homes, going to school, eating and living because the occupation wants all Palestinians to leave the country to give Israel maximum geography with minimum native demography. When Palestinian shepherds in Atwani village continued to go to their pastures despite repeated attacks by settlers, even attempts to poison their sheep, that was nonviolent resistance. When Palestinians walk to school while being spat upon, kicked and beaten by settlers and soldiers, that is nonviolent resistance. When Palestinians stand in line for hours at checkpoints to reach hospitals, farms, work, schools or to visit their friends, that is nonviolent resistance." (Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment )
"Hope is so important; we cannot live without hope," another man told us. "Yet sometimes we feel we have been abandoned, that the rest of the world neither knows nor cares what is happening to us. Loss of hope is what leads youth to commit acts of violence." Some graffiti on the separation wall expresses that despair: "We cannot live, so we are waiting for death."
All of the people we met with told us that our visit gave them hope, that they were encouraged by our presence, and grateful that people were taking notice.
I find hope in the Palestinian people themselves-- in their generous hospitality, their grace under pressure, their steadfast endurance. Their witness has helped me hear the Apostle Paul's words in a new way: "We rejoice in our sufferings, because suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us because God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."