Call from a Palestinian Christian – church should unite to help the poor

Church should unite to help poor — call from a Palestinian Christian
Published yesterday  (updated) 20/11/2011 22:15
 
 
 
A Christian leader once said, “I have witnessed a conference lately where the amounts collected for Palestinian Christians amounted to $1.5 million. We know there are dozens of organizations and movements that collect and claim sending 20 times this amount each year in this direction, so why do Palestinian Christians seem to be getting poorer?” Lately I was involved in establishing a special fund for needy families, supported by locals. Contributions came swiftly for urgent needs and emergencies such as families left without homes, with their furniture in the street. 
For one family, we managed to rent an apartment for six months, and approached one of the churches that own at least 500 apartments in Jerusalem, asking for a room for this family. It took us more than three months to get a response to a plea, which never came in writing, but we verbally got an answer that “there is no room in the inn,” more or less.
 
Churches are sending thousands of their pilgrims through Israeli tour operators using Israeli hotels, guides and drivers, while Palestinian Christian firms are either closing down or selling cheap to cope with the sharp Israeli competitive edge. This is because their government supports an assortment of marketing and capacity building activity.
 
Meanwhile, we Palestinian Christians hear foreign Christians and churches weeping about our destiny, about our alleged persecution by our own people, because of our faith. NGOs, church-affiliated and others, are spending millions for the “Christians” in the Holy Land. Yet, the situation of many Christians is becoming worse.
 
We, Christians of the Holy Land, are very grateful to every tiny or huge act of support. But this help is insufficient: so many remain with their daily struggle for a dignified daily life: food, dress, house, children, education. To reach out more efficiency, it is time for all Christian NGOs, all denominations, to go beyond any denomination and coordinate their work as a response to Christ: “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
 
It is time to set up structures to respond efficiently to the immediate needs of those who are thrown out of their houses and others. It is high time for all of us who can help, and for our church leaders to listen to what Jesus asked and still is asking us and them to do for Him, in the person of the poor, those in prison, those who have no house, those who are hungry. So often the church has stood by and watched without speaking truth to power and without translating its faith into action, an action that will alleviate the lives of the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized.
The local church should also have a more active and positive role.  As an example, we were grateful to see Bishop Shomali officiate at the service in Beit Jala on the Cremisan land that is going to be confiscated, but we were sadly distressed to see that the Cremisan fathers could not take a stand on their own, despite the solidarity of the community. It is high time for us, laypeople, Christians, to take our fate into our own hands. We can help each other. We have to help each other. Money is there, but love is not there, and the right use and organization of our resources is not there: a complete reform in our vision and action is needed. Who is ready for reform? Come let us join our hands, our love and our money.
Who is ready to start?
 
Yusef Daher is Palestinian Christian activist and one of the authors of the Kairos Document, a theological statement rejecting occupation.
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  1. […] rest is here: Call from a Palestinian Christian – church should unite to help the … Posted in Church Tags: amounts, church, help-poor, leader-once, palestinian, should-unite, yusef […]

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