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Tenacious Hope

A letter from Victor and Sara Makari serving in Israel/Palestine

November 2016

Write to Victor Makari 
Write to Sara Makari 

Individuals: Give to E200525 for Victor and Sara Makari’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D507586 for Victor and Sara Makari’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).

 


Dear Family and Friends:

Greetings to you from Israel/Palestine, both from ourselves and the Christian communities of the Holy Land whom we accompany and with whom we are privileged to share our ministry of witness to the peace and reconciliation of Christ.

As we complete the current term of our joint appointment under the mission boards of the UCC/Disciples, PC(USA) and ELCA and anticipate a renewed term of service, there is much to which we look forward, and more for which to be deeply thankful. Indeed, there is much to reflect upon.

On the one hand, there is the chronic military occupation with its patent as well as its more insidiously hidden effects; the apparently futile efforts toward a just and peaceful resolution to the long-standing conflict; the struggle of both Israelis and Palestinians to live free—respectively—of fear and of oppression; growing economic instability and a resultant sense of insecurity (while avarice and opportunism spread manifestly); increasing religious radicalization; continuing degradation of the environment; and an overall remarkable deterioration of the quality of life…

… and, on the other hand, the tenacious and steadfast hope by which many live and affirm life and persist in creative and dedicated patience in spite of veritable challenges that can drive them to despair.

In this newsletter we want to focus on ONE issue that is at once alarming and hopeful and to solicit your prayers and invite your support, wherever and however possible:

The academic year (2016-2017) for elementary through secondary schools in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip), opened with 693,165 pupils in the West Bank and 499,643 others in Gaza.

Students are distributed as follows: 7,781,169 students attend government schools administered by the Palestinian Authority; 296,835 students attend schools funded and administered by UNRWA (the United Nations Relief Works Agency); and 114,804 students attend private schools (including schools funded and operated by Christian churches, Islamic institutions, other charities and a few commercial private schools).

The Churches of the Holy Land (Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran and Anglican) assume a major share of educating these young generations in their private schools. It is a huge commitment and undertaking, as well as an enormous financial burden requiring considerable amounts of internal and external support.

Schools affiliated with our partner churches rank among the highest in performance, both of teachers and students, affording quality education, promoting peace and nonviolence, as well as advancing character development and building capacities for leadership.

At the time of dismissal pupils stream out of their school buildings like tidal waves. They are bright-looking, hopeful, carefree and many playful, and some (as usual) look bored! However, when one contemplates these huge numbers in light of high unemployment rates in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (reportedly 40 percent in Gaza; and variously between 28 percent and 35 percent in the West Bank including Areas A, B and C) the picture of the future is astoundingly grim. This is not good for Palestine; it is not good for Israel; it is not good for the world.

Unless both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the powers that be of the world community wake up to ponder an impending large-scale disaster compounding the present tragedies of the occupation, and respond urgently to the need for a just peace, there is no telling of the future of the region or the world. Escalating armament, pittances of humanitarian aid, wringing of hands or passive pity will not be the solution.

In the immediate present and future, we invite you to pray with us that the Lord will continue to guide school administrators and teachers to be an inspiration to their students, and that God’s Spirit will guide the hearts, minds and spirits of politicians and other decision-makers to the paths of peace, that ALL may have life and have it abundantly. We also invite you to take part in creating space for hope and confidence in a future that may now be difficult to imagine, but that God—in unfathomable wisdom—is preparing for these innocent generations.

* * * * * * *

Some personal news:

Many of you have heard and sent us very touching messages of condolence for the death of Sara’s father, Dr. Kenneth Bailey. He was hospitalized for a period of about six weeks before going to be with the Lord on May 23rd. We were grateful to be with him when he breathed his last and continue, though sadly, to give thanks for his life and ministry of teaching, writing, lecturing and building up the Church of Jesus Christ in the Middle East, the United States and indeed many other parts of the world. He is missed greatly.

Sara continues to heal from the surgeries on her feet and is able to walk short distances, though the pain persists. Meanwhile she provides editing services for English-language publications for Diyar—a rather complex and demanding work since local and international authors are often writing in their third or fourth language. Victor’s ministry here continues through the Religion & State Program in the Arab World, under the auspices of the Lutheran-based Diyar Consortium of Bethlehem, and building relationships with the various Christian communities of the Holy Land.

We are both pleased to report that Victor has completed his Arabic translation of Books Three and Four of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. This “extracurricular” activity used up much late-night work and every conceivable “spare moment” for over two years (!). Yet it was not only theologically and linguistically stimulating but also deeply renewing spiritually. When it was completed, Victor said “Amen” to Calvin’s last line of the Institutes, “God Be Praised!”

As always, we continue to be grateful to God for you, and grateful to you for your prayers, support and accompaniment. In these thoughts we are always comforted as we face the complexities of living in this part of God’s world. As we anticipate renewing our appointment for an additional four years, we invite you to commit to prayer, correspondence and financial support of this ministry (through our account E200525 so that we may together continue to work for an abundant life for all in Israel/Palestine.

Sincerely in Christ,

Victor and Sara Makari

Please read this important message from Tony De La Rosa, Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:1b-2, NRSV)

Dear Friend of the Presbyterian Mission Agency:

Thank you for your prayers and for your financial support of Victor and Sara Makari this year, and any previous year. We hear from our mission co-workers how much your prayerful financial support has meant to them. Please know that you are a vital part of ministries throughout Israel-Palestine.

Even as I thank you, I want to let you know that this is a critical time for our congregations and all people of faith to commit themselves to support mission co-workers like Victor and Sara. Our global church partners greatly value their service, and you well know how important this ministry is in building connections between the body of Christ in the U.S. and Israel-Palestine.

We have historically relied on endowment interest and the general offering from congregations to sustain the vital work of all of our mission workers. Those sources of funding have greatly diminished. It is only through the gifts of individuals and congregations that we are able to keep Sara and Victor doing the life-giving work God called them to do. A year ago, in May 2015, we had to recall some mission workers due to a lack of funding. World Mission communicated the challenge to you, and you responded decisively and generously. Through your response, we heard the Spirit remind us, “Fear not!”

Today, I’m asking you to consider an additional gift for this year, and to increase the gift you may consider for 2017. Sending and support costs include not only salary but also health insurance and retirement contributions, orientation, language training, housing, travel to the country of service, children’s education, emergency evacuation costs, and visa/passport costs.

My heartfelt thanks for your prayers and support of our Presbyterian mission co-workers. In the coming season, we will celebrate God’s sending of the Christ child, the source of the good news we share. May you experience anew the hope, peace, joy, and love that are ours because “perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18).

Thank you for saying “yes” to love.

With you in Christ,

Tony De La Rosa
Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


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