Yesterday the choir had an amazing, God glorifying, ministry in Zababdeh, a village in the district of Jenin. There is a small community of about 2000 Christians in Zababdeh, and the service was in the St. Matthew Anglican Church. The church was incredibly packed. People filled the seats and aisles of the beautiful small chapel and there was barely room to move. The congregation was very thirsty and receptive. They participated in singing, and when we shared between songs I could see the words echoing with comfort and encouragement deep in their souls. The joy and peace of Christmas came to Zababdeh. Jesus was lifted high!
After the service, people shared with us and thanked us for the visit. One man told me that the singing healed his soul. Another man thanked us for coming such a long way to be with them and expressed how they feel isolated and neglected in this part of the land, and how our message to them was very important.
His words reminded me of a visit the choir did few years ago to one of the oldest churches in the world, “The Church of the Ten Lepers,” sight of the famous miracle of Jesus when he healed the 10 lepers. The church’s location today is in the small village of Burqin, where only 70 Christians live. I asked the woman who opened the church for us on how long Christians have been living in this place, to which she replied: “We have always been here.” As I reflect on this visit, and on our time yesterday in Zababdeh, I am in awe of the fact that the Palestinian Church is the oldest Church in the world. We survived over 2000 years of world history and different ruling powers, and remained as a living testimony in the land – a testimony to the greatest events that took place in the history of humanity: God visiting us, becoming one of us, living among us and eventually saving us through His death and resurrection. I think of the similarities we have with those lepers Jesus healed; neglected, ignored and forsaken by many, yet loved, cared for, and eventually healed by God!
It was our privilege to lift Jesus up in Zababdeh! I am so thankful and proud of the choir, who were determined to take this trip despite what happened on our last trip when we were attacked by the settlers. It was worth it. I am so glad we went. We made a difference. Thank God we were not attacked this time and the trip was safe. We were "only" stopped on the way back at a checkpoint near Bethlehem and some of us had to wait for about 30 minutes in the cold until we were cleared to go. (The conversation we had with the solders was interesting - but that's another story!) We did not allow this, however, to spoil such a special night. We were in peace!