Christians in the Holy Land have marked the Friends of theHoly Land's first Pilgrimage by welcoming their visit to the Holy Places. 'The visit of so many Pilgrims from the UK brought new hope to theChristian people and communities of the Holy Land' said Laila Asfoura, an active member of FHL's Palestine Committee and a well-known member of theChristian community. 'We were so glad to see the FHL Pilgrims during their busy week with us, and to welcome them toPalestine, the land whereChristianity began. It's good to know thatChristians across England and Wales think of us, remember us in their prayers and actively support us as a very difficult time, and even better to meet so many of them as they visited localChristians. Their warmth and kindness has given us new hope for the future, and we hope to develop even closer links with FHL over the next few years.'
The party of 50 Pilgrims, all supporters of Friends of the Holy Land from Catholic and Anglican church support groups across the country, spent a week inPalestine, visiting many of the most important places inChristianity and, most importantly, spending time with localChristians. 'A vibrant, viable, resilientChristian community is essential to theHoly Land, and they need our help more than ever in these troubles times. When Friends of the Holy Land was set up, nearly four years ago, we included pilgrimage in our four objectives, because there's no better way to understand the difficulties faced daily by ourChristian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land than seeing how they live, even if only for a few days, and nothing inspires and motivates our work of support for them better', said Peter Rand, Vice Chairman of FHL and a founder member of the charity. 'We also think it's essential to showChristians in the Holy Land that they're not forgotten, and that we value and care about them, and to reassure them with our words and our presence that we will do what we can to help them through difficult times.'
All the returning Pilgrims spoke warmly of their meetings with localChristians. 'Even in just a week it’s easy to see how many difficulties and frustrations they have to face in their daily lives, but we were impressed by their resourcefulness and resilience’ added Peter Rand. ‘We met nothing but kindness and generous hospitality as they welcomed us to their churches and homes, and it’s clear that by helping each other they survive the sort of pressures we’d find intolerable. However, emigration is undoubtedly an attractive option, especially for professional people and for families, and theChristian population continues to fall, with the less qualified and the elderly being left behind. These are the people we at Friends of the Holy Land help and support, and we’re pleased to do it, to maintain aChristian presence in thelandofOur Lord. We’ve come back with more projects to fund, and although this will be a challenge I know we’ll meet it as we’ve met all the challenges of the last four years.’
Further information from John Bradshaw, 07733 543309
FHL, 2 Station Road, Kenilworth CV8 1JJ
01926 512980 Fax 01926 850946
Registered Charity Number 1130054