MWiB May Fellowship Day
Ladies from all over Cumbria came together on Wednesday, 16 May 2013, a beautiful sunny day, to share in a fantastic day of fellowship in the delightful church at Brampton. We were made most welcome by their minister Rev Andrew Longshaw. Our President Di Wallace led our opening worship and then introduced our speaker, Rev Nichola Jones, a Superintendent Minister from Birmingham.
For starters, Nichola gave us a little history about herself; of her Methodist rooted early life in Manchester; her call to the ministry at the age of 18 years and of her awakening interest in Palestine over 28 years ago. She is a naturally gifted story teller and we were engaged and enthralled by the many stories that unfolded, some of which made us laugh, whilst others reduced us to tears - such as the story of the pregnant woman who was not allowed to go through the “wall” to the hospital only yards away on the other side, because it was not the right time of day! So a brave compassionate Israeli female soldier, against the wishes of fellow soldiers, delivered the baby, getting guidance by phone from that same hospital! The mother called the baby Naomi after the soldier- but over 62% of babies born at checkpoints die!
Did you know that the “wall” is 437 miles long and costs £1m/mile to build, that it is 27ft high and cuts through fertile land and schools and homes, that some refugee camps are 65 years old, almost as old as the State of Israel created in 1947/48, and that Israeli soldiers bulldoze houses in the early hours of the morning, creating more homeless? But, there are Israeli Jews (from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition) who come and stand in the way and many who want peace.
Nichola told us of the Bereaved Family Circle group comprised of Muslims and Jews, of the L'Arche charity, of the special home where she buys the most delightful bags and olive wood carvings to sell here in England (we were all keen to purchase these as they were so beautiful), of the twice yearly visits to Palestine – one a Retreat, the other to “do”. One story of “doing” spoke of the Machsom Watch of grandmothers, who watch the checkpoints in Bethlehem for unfair treatment of those trying to pass through in the early hours of the morning. Nichola herself has also experienced facing the soldiers' guns!
Amongst many other things, Nichola reported that Christians in Palestine have now reduced to 1.7% of the population; Messianic Jews are still Jews not Christians; the Bereavement Group is a mixture of faiths; there is the Christian Peacemaker Team and EAPPI (run by the Quakers); whilst all women ministers were invited to No 10 with Dawn French during the Make Poverty History rally.
Nichola ended by telling us of Ibrahm, a wood carver who makes “Guardian Angels” in wood (every child should have one), and asked us all to pray for Palestine. In this quiet mode we finished, Di sensitively drawing our time together to a close in prayer.
Of course we all said our farewells over tea and cakes, after giving a super donation to Nichola to take back on her next visit to Palestine, to support a home for severely injured young men, women and children and those born with multiple disabilities. We wish her well and ask God's blessing on all she does in Palestine.
Delphine Gratrix (District MWiB Rep)