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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'Please pray for us'

Christmas letters from Jerusalem

I send you Christian greetings from Jerusalem, the city of peace. How we long for that peace here!

We live in constant fear of being attacked or hurt. Not since the 1948 catastrophe have we experienced such fear and anguish. In our streets, soldiers with machine guns outnumber pedestrians. More armed Israeli civilians than Arabs walk through the streets of Arab neighborhoods.

Our children aren't sure if their schools will be open tomorrow. During the last week of September and the first three weeks of October, my three children went to school four days.

Israel's treatment of Palestinians is no less than the white South Africans' treatment of black South Africans in yesteryears. Every time I move outside Palestinian circles, I feel subhuman.

Palestinians have suffered great economic hardships — now more than ever. Tourism keeps bread on our tables. But now tourists are afraid to visit. My income isn't covering half of my restaurant's expenses. If things don't improve, I'll soon be out of business.

As we join our Christian family around the world to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, we also wonder if this will be the night Israeli settlers attack our neighborhood.

My children continue to be afraid at night. In October, when Jewish settlers attacked Palestinian homes in the West Bank, Jameleh and I gathered our children, got on our knees and asked the Lord to intervene ... to halt the madness that grips the minds of so many. We give thanks to the Lord that we were spared that night. We are saddened that many in our community were hurt or had their homes torched.

We continue to struggle to live by Christ's command — to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We lift our voices in prayer that the Lord will lead us to experience the true meaning of Christmas: the peace that passes all understanding.

We long to taste the true flavor of the love Jesus showed us even as he was being nailed to the cross. We pray with him: Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

Please pray for our small family of Lutherans, part of your faith family in the Land of the Lord.


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