Giving

On Sunday I preached about giving. I believe God calls us to give, not with a stingy heart, but to give generously.

As I’ve had the massive privilege of travelling to some amazing places, and meeting the most amazing people, I’ve been really struck by the generosity of people.

When me and the family did Live Below the Line, so many people offered to have us round for dinner, or bring us food. Going to the Palestinian family’s home and receiving their generous hospitality was another wonderful experience.

I’ve also been amazed, and really humbled, by the number of people who so generously offer their time in prayer and support for me. It’s amazing the effect being generous has on people, I wonder how easily we miss the generosity of God in his giving to us.

God gives extravagantly to us...

‘Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.’  (Ephesians 5:2)

Take some time this week, to recognise how generously God is pouring out love and grace on you this week, and think about God’s call for us to give in the same way.

Holy Land Visit - trying to make some sense!!

At the start of the week, I started writing this as a diary. It got to Sunday, and I really struggled to articulate what I wanted to say – I wasn’t even sure if what I thought I wanted to say was what I really wanted to say!


If you want to know all of what we got up to, then can I point you in the direction of my ginger ninja of a friend, Matt Collins and his brilliantly open and honest blog about the experiences from his point of view from last week! (http://ramblingthoughtsofaginger.blogspot.co.uk/)

Maybe over the next few weeks, my thoughts will become clearer, and I’ll be able to work out what I think and feel about the whole situation.

At this stage, unfortunately this is the best I can offer...

As much as this whole conflict is about land and politics, and who should be where, and who should do what – it’s so much more about people.

The people I’ve met over the past week, I will never forget. All the memories I look back on are about the people, the conversations, how courageous and inspirational they all are – and I’m talking about both sides of the wall here.

These people are affected by the conflict every day of their lives, in some cases in incredibly challenging and very sad ways. But they still have hope, and it’s the hope which makes them so inspirational!

Everyone we talked to wanted peace, there must be a way for us to reach it. There just has to be. It’s the people we should be fighting for, not any land or any politics, but for the people, on both sides, so that they can live freely and live in peace.

God of justice, give us a clear vision of what peace & justice looks like for this land.

I want to also take this opportunity to thank the incredible group of people that I had the pleasure of joining on this trip.

To Nive, Kate, Alison, Meg, Anna, Becky, Sharon, Tim & Matt – thank you all so much for being the most amazing people to share the most amazing experience with.

Holy Land Visit - Day 4

There was one moment from today which epitomised the whole experience so far. We were sat in a tent in the centre of Ramallah, on a Ramallah, on a roundabout, that was there in support of Palestinian prisoners

It was a complete sensory overload! Music blasting out of a speaker, the tent stinking of cigarette smoke, trying to listen to a conversation on one side, someone also trying to engage me in conversation on the other. Whilst all this was going on, my brain was half trying to count everyone to make sure we hadn't lost anyone, and half trying to make some kind of sense from all that I'd heard earlier that day.

We started with non-violence training from the Holy Land Trust. It was really interesting to see how the trust is training the Palestinians, and all the principles behind it. We then drove onto Al-Walaja, to see the house Nive had build the previous year - thankfully it's still standing!!

From there, we went onto Ramallah - a compeltely different feel to Bethlehem. We met Amra Amra from the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, who gave us a really honest presentation which was great to hear. The we went onto my sensory overload situation!!

At the moment, I have no idea what to think or feel.

Lord, I pray for clarity and a clear vision of peace & justice in this place.

Holy Land VIit - Day 3

This morning, we spent in Jerusalem. Visiting the Holy Sites was azazing! We started on top of the Mount of Olives, top some pictures of the amazing view, and walked own the hill towards the garden of Gethsemane. It's incredible to think, that 2000 years ago, that placed played such a significant part in the story of our faith.

From there, we moved into the Old City, falafel was today's lunch, and then out towards the Damascus Gate to meet our driver. We met a lady from ICHAD, who took us on a tour round the outskirts of Jerusalem and round some of the settlements that lie around the city.

It was so interesting to hear from her, and her story, and how it's impacted on her life.

Tonight, we're going off to different families' houses for dinner. The food has been amazing so far, I expect tonight will be even better!!

Holy Land Visit - Day 2

Wow, a absolutely packed day - but incredible!!

We started the day with a visit to the offices of the Holy Land Trust, a wonderful new building with fantastic views over Bethlehem - a good photo opportunity to start the day!!

Then we went onto the Bethlehem Bible College. One of the professors, Alex Awad, gave us an hour presentation about the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and told us the story of his family. I think it's all beginning to make sense in my head (as much as it can make sense I guess!!).

Then lunch, of Shawarma, like a Doner kebab but really tasty :)

2 minutes up the hill was Bethlehem University, we had a tour of campus, saw the beautiful chapel and got to chat to two of the students. Their stories were amazing, and so good to hear from Palestinians about their experiences of living in Bethlehem. I'm so excited to share all these stories with children & young people back home!!

From there, we spent some time walking round the wall. Some of the artwork was amazing, and to walk round it was an incredible experience.

We met some more young people at the Wi'am centre. We ate with them, and got to make our own additions to the wall - again, an amazing experience!!

We ended the day at the Al-Harah theatre company. They are doing some amazing work with people of all ages in Palestine, and take their plays all over the world.

I think it will take a while to process all that's going on here, and all the information that we're getting.

I thank God for this amazing group of young people. Please pray that God would continue to speak to us, as we move onto Jerusalem tomorrow to walk where Jesus walked.

Holy Land Visit - Day 1

I can’t believe I’m here! This is just such an amazing place!!

The flight was great, the early morning not so great, but all made so worth it by the city of Bethlehem.

At dinner, we had our first experience of Palestinian food – I was in absolute heaven. Starters of olives, salads, humous, aubergines and courgettes; followed by amazing tasting lamb & fish with rice.

We met Sammy, a guy from the Holy Land Trust, who shared with us about his organisation and the work it’s doing. I’m so excited to see the programmes and activities they’re running, and how they are looking to engage young people in them.

We spent the evening wandering round (and getting lost in) Bethlehem, and just taking in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes. The group we’ve got are fantastic, we’re all having a laugh and getting on really well! It’s just such a privilege to  be here!

Tomorrow is looking like a pretty packed day, so I reckon a vaguely early night is in order! I can’t wait to share with you my experiences and encounters as the week unfolds.

I thank God, for the grace He has poured out on us to bring us here safely. Please pray for our continued safe travel, and that God would really speak to us as we encounter the place, the people and the injustice here.