Last November, Bishop Robert Rimbo, Southeast Michigan Synod, presented a ceramic cross to Charlie Haddad, principal of Dar al-Kalima Model School in Bethlehem.
On March 9 and 11, the Israeli military occupied Dar al-Kalima, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan (and Palestine) school. Soldiers fired shots through doors and windows, pulled student artwork from walls and broke the cross.
When a New England Synod delegation visited ELCJ churches in May, Rimbo sent along not one, but three replacement crosses, in a symbolic act of hope and in response to the violence. (See page 12.) Hans Arneson, associate to the New England bishop, delivered the crosses.
"On May 2 the curfew was lifted for a brief few hours, and our delegation slipped into Beit Jala over an earthen berm and through war-torn streets toward Christmas Lutheran Church in adjoining Bethlehem," recalls Arneson, who led the synod delegation.
"There were joyful hugs in our reunion with Pastor Mitri Raheb and his sister, Viola Raheb, director of the Lutheran schools, who gladly received the crosses, saying, 'Getting these crosses at this time is for me a reminder that death does not have the last word.' "
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