One of the Five Marks of Mission widely adopted as an expression of contemporary Christian mission is “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth”.
Stephen has just returned from participating in the Olive Tree Planting Campaign organised by the Joint Advocacy Initiative of the East Jerusalem YMCA\YWCA in Palestine and the Alternative Tourism Group (ATG). The JAI-ATG Olive Planting Program, lasts for 10 days in February each year.
People of any age and background from all over the world can join. This year the international team of 20 ranged from teenagers to senior citizens and came from Denmark, Holland, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK to participate.
A total of 12,000 olive trees were funded by international donors this year. We managed to plant 800 during the week on four farms threatened by Israeli settlement expansion and land confiscation.
The program included planting internationally-sponsored olive trees in Palestinian fields, with Palestinian families, that are under high threat of confiscation due to the Israeli colonies (settlements) expansion, israeli apartheid wall, settlers’ bypass roads, or Palestinian farmers facing difficulties maintaining their land due to the frequent settlers’ attacks. Hence, the presence of internationals was not only to provide physical support, but also to provide protective presence, show solidarity to the farmers’ families in order to Keep their Hope Alive.
Participants were given the opportunity to listen to Palestinian farmers’ stories of how their properties are threatened by settlers, the Apartheid Wall, bypass roads or Israeli settlement expansions. We also visited Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah and Nabi Saleh during the week.
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