Dear Bishop Eaton,
Salaam and grace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I want to thank you for your letter of support and comfort. It comes at a time when we find ourselves in a terrible situation. I have always written that we in the Holy Land are in a continuous state of emergency and this violence proves that we cannot go two years without something that devastates our daily lives. However, despite all of the frustration, depression, bloodshed, and the growth of extremism – which this war will only increase – we in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) continue to be committed to a non-violent witness for justice, peace, and reconciliation.
I have worked towards peace my whole life and it disheartens me to see that in this country the power of hatred is still stronger than the power of love. It hurts to see that the power of injustice is far more prevalent than the message of justice for each and every human being. We are appalled to see that the logic of power is stronger than the power of logic. But we in the ELCJHL will not allow this to frustrate our efforts or our message of peace for all humanity – the message of the cross. Our power comes from the resurrection and although it seems dark now, the message of the resurrection – the resurrection that took place here in Jerusalem – will revive the power of hope within us. We pray that this hatred will not be able to grow more even in the midst of occupation and extremism, but that peace based on justice will blossom in this desert of animosity and aggression. I pray that I will see this in my lifetime.
The ELCJHL has always called for a strengthening of Christian witness in the Middle East. Christian witness is always an instrument of peace. Christians have always worked to be brokers of justice, initiators of dialogue, ministers of reconciliation, and bridge builders between all. This message needs to be strengthened not just in the Holy Land, but throughout the entire Middle East. The King of Jordan, King Abdullah II, said as much when giving the ELCJHL a small parcel of land at the historic Baptismal Site at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan when he stated that he wanted to strengthen the Arab Christian presence in the Middle East.
The ELCJHL has always worked to strengthen moderates from all religions, cultures, traditions, and nations in the Middle East. We strengthen those who see God’s image in the other and who will not promote extremism, violence, or human right’s violations.
The ELCJHL has always worked to make education a priority in the Middle East. All education, including peace education, must be the highest priority of a nation that seeks equity. We do not want or need an education of incitement or of provocation, but an education that will accept the other and to see the other as an ally in building up humanity and creating justice. Instead of using arms, weapons, rockets, or phosphorous bombs, we wish to educate our children towards peace where war and intifadas will be a thing of the past, no longer tools of the present.
The ELCJHL has always called for interfaith dialogue, a dialogue which seeks the common values of peace, justice, co-existence, and non-violence. Without dialogue between religions, extremism will grow and moderates, including Christians, will be sidelined and marginalized in their own societies. It is time not only for governments to assume their responsibilities, but also people of faith.
We would like to ask you that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) may use their power to apply pressure for a ceasefire that will end the siege of Gaza, end the occupation, and create a two-state solution, living side-by-side in peace, justice, and reconciliation, based on international law.
I thank the ELCA for their support of us as a church. I thank you on behalf of the entire ELCJHL for your prayers and comfort. Please greet your churches and congregations and thank them for their support during this difficult time. We pray that you will continue to support us and the Gospel of Love that invites us to build peace wherever we are called, as we pray for you. Let us together revive a spirit of accompaniment that will advance holistic mission, strengthen Christians, and work towards peace based on justice and reconciliation based on forgiveness.
Your Brother in Christ,
Bishop Munib Younan