Left Justified: Mission to the Holy Land

Many Christians dream about visiting the Holy Land and Jerusalem. Even with the war, pilgrims make their way through the streets where Jesus walked. And if they’re lucky, they have an American there who welcomes and escorts, and that’s what the Reverend Sandra Olewine does for a living. She welcomes people “right off the tour bus.”

Not only does she take them to Churches of the Nativity and the Holy Sepulcher, but she encourages them to meet with Christian Palestinians and Israeli peace activists. This woman of practical faith will be in Rockford on Monday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockford, 4848 Turner St. You are welcome.

Rev. Olewine is the United Methodist liaison in the Jerusalem office. She arranges tours for the faithful. But she also works at the International Center of Bethlehem, an outreach ministry of the Lutheran Church. Rev. Olewine develops educational programs for seminarians, clergy and lay people, some of whom are Christian Palestinian youth. She also assists in worship services there in Bethlehem. Sandra will give us an honest appraisal of the situation in Israel and occupied Palestine, and we may even receive some hopeful glimmerings, we hope.

Because she is an American in Israel, the Israeli security forces don’t usually rough her up. And because she works with Palestinians, she enters a lot of places where the normal American wouldn’t. Rev. Sandra has lived under military occupation as well as celebrated the few times that peace looked possible. The meeting, of course, is free and open to the public.

We will also introduce our local traveler, Adah Manby, an 82-year-old grandmother from Leaf River, Ill., who will be going to visit the Middle East in December. This brave Quaker woman will travel with a group called Christian Peacemaker Teams and spend three weeks in Hebron, Jerusalem, and maybe even the Gaza Strip. They will meet with people working on solutions for peace and bringing encouragement that there are Americans concerned about the area.

Adah is a member of Rockford Peace & Justice Action Committee. She decided to volunteer for this trip when she heard a speaker at our local Coffee Talks program. At the time, Adah heard about the Peacemaker Teams in Colombia, but when they indicated they sent people to hot spots all around the world, Adah signed up. And we wish her well. You can, too, if you join us this Monday.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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