Friends of the Holy Land, an ecumenical, non-political charity dedicated to helping and supporting Christians in the Holy Land, held a fringe meeting at the General Synod in York. Peter Rand, FHL’s Vice Chairman and one of its founding members, told Synod members of the crisis facing Christians in the Holy Land, especially since the tension in the region exploded into violence in the last few weeks.
Peter Rand spoke of the importance of maintaining a secure, resilient Christian community in the land of Our Lord’s birth, and the difficulties facing Christians there today. He told the meeting about the decline of the Christian population in the Holy Land, largely through emigration, to its present level of about 190,000 in Israel and the West Bank, about 1.5% of the total population, and the economic and political pressures they were enduring.
He also told of the immense fear and anxiety felt by Christians in the region since the recent outbreak of violence, their increasing pessimism in the face of apparently intractable political disputes they are unable to influence, and the sense of helplessness and insecurity this has brought about. In the last week we have had increasing reports of salaries not being paid, medications not being available, public services being hit and economic activity coming to a halt. Christians are pleading that we ‘remember them in our prayers. Please do not forget us and keep visiting us.’
On a positive note, Peter Rand told the meeting how support from Christians in this country was enabling the Charity to fund all of the necessary costs, which Christian patients could not afford themselves, of medications, operations and treatment at St. Luke’s Hospital in Nablus; a total of 600 cases each year. The hospital is run by the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem.
‘The challenges now are the same as for many years. They are to do with creating an environment where our Christian brothers and sisters can be self sufficient, with a good and sustainable reason to stay in the Holy Land, the land of their birth and heritage. Friends of the Holy Land does this through practical help in the fields of education, employment, health and housing. As Christians we also encourage prayer for their intentions and pilgrimage to see and experience, however briefly, their daily lives, and so to understand better their difficulties and influence an improvement. With the warm support of the Archbishop of Canterbury, our other Anglican Patrons, Bishops and the laity, the Church of England is increasing its support for Friends of the Holy Land. Attending General Synod has provided an excellent opportunity to increase our contacts with the church.’
Further information from John Bradshaw, 07733 543309, or Peter Rand, 01926 852163
Friends of the Holy Land, 2 Station Road, Kenilworth CV8 1JJ
Registered Charity Number 1130054
Telephone 01926 512980