Jesus said: “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asked for bread, would give a stone? Or if the child asked for a fish, would give a snake? If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! In everything do to others as you would have them do to you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Love of travel, rather than knowledge about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict meant I jumped at the opportunity to visit Palestine. I spent most of my time there in shock. Illegal settlements surround and choke off Palestinian towns. Farmers speak of persistent violent attempts by military courts to seize their land. An illegal border wall cuts off tens of thousands from the rest of Palestinian territory. Palestinians must pass on foot through cages and robotic turnstiles at military checkpoints whilst Israeli vehicles pass in air conditioned comfort. I learnt how security forces bomb Palestinian homes, sometimes with little warning. An art exhibition portrayed the experience of Palestinian children who are tried in Israeli military courts and interrogated using stress positions and torture in order to extract ‘confessions’ of wrongdoing.*
I also experienced the warm and caring hospitality of Palestinians, from shopkeepers, families, and young people who are among the most highly educated in the world. I learnt about a range of Palestinian organisations promoting peace, environmental sustainability, and education. The experience hurt my soul and left me with more questions than answers.
For over a hundred years, conflicts between indigenous Palestinians and primarily European settlers have led to a situation that is far from a peaceful resolution. Christians often say we don’t know enough to speak about that topic. So let’s try to ask the tough questions, knock on the right doors, and seek out knowledge, so that we can be well informed and act justly. In today’s passage, Jesus encourages us to ask, seek, and to be assured that, eventually, our persistence will be fruitful. This week, our Daily Devotions reflect on the experiences of everyday people who visited this conflict zone. Read them, reflect on what you learn, seek out wisdom and understanding, and start to knock on doors to seek justice for the oppressed.
Maybe you can visit Palestine too? In the words of Banksy, scrawled onto the illegal barrier, Make hummus, not walls.
Heavenly Father, Jesus taught us to seek, ask, and knock. Please show us opportunities to seek information on the Israel/Palestine conflict, and to ask Palestinians about their stories. Show us how to use our privilege to amplify the voices of the oppressed. Bless our efforts to knock on the doors of people in power as we try to stand up against violence and injustice. In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amen
Luke Framji is a member of St. Andrew’s with Castle Gate URC, and visited Palestine as part of the Young Adult Conference arranged by Sabeel-Kairos.