Friends of the Holy Land

Click on image to see FHL film

Bishop Tim, during synod, challenged us to imagine the Holy Land without Christians. The place where Jesus was born, died and resurrected – without any Christians left? After listening to Peter Rand, vice chairman of Friends of the Holy Land (FHL), it became clear that, sadly, none of us have to imagine too hard as he explained that less than 2% of the population is now Christian.

In the video above, Vera Baboun, Mayor of Bethlehem explains that the wall, which is twice the height of the Berlin Wall and 700km long, “…Breaches the path of faith from the moment of nativity and the moment of resurrection.” A terribly depressing symbol of Christianity in the Holy Land.

But Peter gave us hope. The biggest thing we can do, as Christians here, is to pray for the Christians over there. FHL is a charity that exists to provide emergency help for vulnerable Christian families, helping them with education, employment, housing and health. With a local office on the ground in the West Bank, the charity, whose headquarters are in the UK, are well placed to provide emergency help, especially medical, but are also keen to provide sustainable assistance that, as Peter said, provides the means with which to fish, rather than just the fish.

“The wall between Israel and the Gaza Strip breaches he path of faith from the moment of nativity and the moment of resurrection.”

For example, Bethlehem has the richest reservoir in the West Bank, yet is prohibited from using it. Instead they must buy their water from Israel and the supply is expensive, intermittent with deliveries often once every three weeks, and beyond the reach of vulnerable families. FHL, who believe it is a basic right to have access to water, have stepped in to help by installing simple water tanks on their roofs to capture rainfall and ensure supplies can be sustained over a longer period.

FHL came into being after a pilgrimage by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, back in 2007, who said something must be done. Archbishop Rowan Williams said the same when he also came back from a pilgrimage there, and so everyone worked together to create the organisation that exists today. But the problem isn’t going away. Archbishop Justin Welby, who has recently returned from the area, has said they are suffering and need our help. Aside from prayers and practical support, pilgrimages to the Holy Land are a fantastic way of coming alongside the Christian communities there and standing with them in their struggles.

To find out more and see how you can get involved, visit Friends of the Holy Land