A newsletter for friends of the Global Mission Institute, Luther Seminary

Global Vision - Spring 2009

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M.A. Student Leads Trip to Jerusalem: Three Faiths, Two Countries, One Hope for Peace

by John Klawiter, M.Div. Jr.

Instead of writing a thesis to complete her M.A. in Educational Leadership, Kathy Adam led a group of eight to experience the Holy Land in a way that few from America are able.

This trip, which took place from Dec. 26, 2008 to Jan. 10, 2009, marks Adam's third venture to the Holy Land.

"I fell in love with the region," says Adam, "so I combined that love and interest with an educational inquiry."

The theme for the experience became "Three Faiths, Two Countries, and One Hope for Peace in the Holy Land," which was created to see what would happen to the views, ideas and actions of individuals as they were immersed in this new culture.

The trip is documented on the Web site www.lutherholylandtrip.wordpress.com.

Learning from Palestinians

To prepare, Adam visited with Palestinians living in the Twin Cities. The eight who attended the trip were assembled by inviting individuals Adam thought would be interested in the theme.
At the center of her research, Adam sought answers to how people would react to the culture through the experience.

"The question is: 'Have the individuals' views, beliefs [and] actions been transformed by the experience?'" asked Adam.  "Have they been moved to new actions based on the experience in the Holy Land?"

"Our group learned that there is more than one view about the situation in the Holy Land," said Adam.
"We learned that the way the situation is framed in much of the U.S. media is only one way of looking at things."

"We experienced the hardships that the Palestinians face and saw that they are the children of God like the rest of humanity. They are people who want to live in freedom and make their positive contributions to their society and the world."

Cultural Revelations

The group was able to witness how the Palestinians reacted to the fighting in Gaza first-hand. "Israel and Palestine is a small place, approximately 200 miles by 50 miles, so we were always geographically close to the conflict, but never personally in danger," said Adam. 

"Watching the war on TV in the homes, shops and restaurants had a great effect on the group because it had a great effect on the Palestinians we were watching with. It increased our empathy for them."

"We were also privileged to be the dinner guests of several Palestinian families as well as having home stays with members of the Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah," said Adam.

"We met with a class of seniors who had just returned from their winter break at Mar Elias Schools in Ibillin.  The students talked with us about the war that had broken out in Gaza while they were on break."

Bringing their Knowledge Home

In line with Luther Seminary's missional focus, the group has continued to learn and process upon returning to the United States. 

"[We] have met a few times since returning to the U.S. and are on fire with ideas to get the message out," said Adam. 

"[The members] are speaking at their churches, setting up appointments with our bishop and legislators to inform and change the negative images that are often held about our Palestinian brothers and sisters.  This concern has many frames, but the most important is that this is what Jesus would have us to do, advocate for our sisters and brothers. To help effect peace with justice as we look to Jesus as the prince of peace."

Sharing their Experience
The Jerusalem group has more information about their trip, including the members, itinerary and a photo montage at the Web site "Three Faiths, Two Countries, One Peace," www.lutherholylandtrip.wordpress.com.