The Kairos Mission Group works to support peacemakers in Israel and Palestine. Many of its members are also part of the Alliance of Baptists Community for Justice in Palestine and Israel. The Alliance has several Communities, where people who share a cause or concern can gather to share ideas and build support. The Community for Justice in Palestine and Israel held a conference in Charlotte last September, which was organized jointly with Bright Stars of Bethlehem. A Ministry Partner of the Alliance, Bright Stars works with young and old in Bethlehem to help grow hope in the midst of occupation. Bright Stars of Bethlehem partners to grow hope in Palestine by connecting people in the United States through awareness-raising and fund-raising, to several ministry efforts in the Holy Land.
The conference in Charlotte, “Room for Hope,” featured chefs-in-training and musicians who are students at Dar al-Kalima College in Bethlehem. The college focuses on education and training that will lead to productive jobs, since an unemployment rate of more than 60% is a major problem in the West Bank. The hospitality industry is a large segment of the economy in Bethlehem, so this kind of training is particularly useful.
The conference included a cooking demonstration and an elegant 5-course meal prepared by the chefs-in-training. Diners were also treated to a lively concert of Palestinian music and dance. Several short films were shown, including one featuring the Palestine women’s soccer team. Director Mitri Rahib, who explained that the point of the evening was to demonstrate that Palestinians, often portrayed as either terrorists or victims, were people with a distinguished history and a lively culture.
Well fed and well entertained, and well informed from other sessions of the conference, we left determined to continue to work for justice and peace in the land of Jesus’ birth.