The good that comes from Nazareth

by Jemmina

I know that it has been almost a month since my last post, and for that I apologise.
Work at Musalaha has slowed down now that all our big events have finished. After our 3 summer camps we had 3 overseas trips in the month of August, the Young Adults went to Norway, the Youth went to Holland and the Families had a conference in Germany. Never fear! There is still work to be done  the paper work.

In the last few weeks I have been travelling to see friends with my new found free time, a weekend in Tel Aviv, a few days in Beer Sheva and this weekend I spent in Nazareth. Because I have already seen all the tourist sights, I am simply enjoying my time being with friends.

This weekend, as I said, I have spent in Nazareth with my friend Shadia and her family. Shadia runs the Youth department at Musalaha and I work closely with her. On Saturday I spent the day with her nephews as they practised with their new magic kit. They were hilarious, and I spent most of the time being told to ‘close my eyes'(I didn’t previously know this phrase in Arabic but quickly learnt when they kept repeating it)  while they attempted to wow me with one of their tricks. Hours of fun, made funnier when the tricks didn’t go exactly as planned. Much fun was had alround
Saturday night we had a massive BBQ (in celebration of the newly built BBQ) for which I had been saving stomach space all day.  All round it was a great day of fellowship, fun and food.

Today I went to the Baptist church in Nazareth with Shadia. Thankful for the fact that they have a translation. In church we sang a Hillsong song that had been translated to Arabic and afterwards the Pastor spoke about a New Zealander who lived in Nazareth and worked at the hospital. I love how small the world is.
In the afternoon I caught a bus to Haifa and walked around a little, enjoying the afternoon and buying Knafeh on the way back. I bought the knafeh from sweets shop that I went to with my  family two years ago. Two years ago when this journey started.

The title of this blog is an answer to the verse in John 1:46 asking
What good can come from Nazareth?’

Nazareth holds a very special place in my heart, and for good reason. When I was here two years ago it, was one of the two Arab towns we visited(not counting Jerusalem), in Nazareth we went to the Basilica of the Annunciation(‘just another church’) and went to Nazareth Village, which was far more interesting. While there we had a guide who talked us through all the parables and taught us about how things were done in Bible times. All the while I was trying to figure out if our guide was an Arab or a Jew.

And then we entered the Synagogue.
In the Synagogue our guide spoke about what happened in Luke 4:17-21 when Jesus stood up, took the scroll of Isaiah and read the prophesy. And repercussions of such an act.
What struck me about this part of our tour was that our guide spoke with such passion, such conviction. This wasn’t just a tour guide who had memorized a script. I realized he was someone who lived and breathed this text. Who had a relationship with the author and the subject. By this time I had also realized that he was and Arab.

I was baffled, this idea had never crossed my mind before. An Arab. A Christian. One and the other. To this day I’m not sure why this got my attention like it did, and why it stayed with me.

On the way back to the car I saw a church with a sign saying ‘Jesus is Alive’ in English and Arabic. I took a photo of it and thought about it often.
My experience in Nazareth was the starting point of the adventure I am on now, it was what opened my eyes to the Palestinian church and its existence.
I passed the church today, its still there. I stood in front of it briefly, thanking God for the change he has done it me.

I pray that you have a soft heart, willing to have your eyes opened to possibilities you don’t know exist and that you will be changed because of it.

Onwards and upwards to another week!