The other side of the Holy Land
I visited this part of the world for the first time last winter. As the writer said, "It is truly a life-changing experience." I was humbled as I walked where Jesus walked, but more importantly, I was stunned by what I saw along with the holy sites and gorgeous scenery.
I saw a country divided by a serpentine 25-foot-high wall that separates not only Israel from the West Bank, but also separates Palestinians from their families, their workplaces, their farmland and orchards that they hold so dear.
I saw Palestinian homes with water tanks on top so that families can capture precious water that is available to them irregularly.
There were checkpoints for motor vehicles and pedestrians that make daily movement long, tedious and frustrating.
I heard stories from men who had been held in administrative detention not knowing why or for how long.
I rode on dirt roads designated for Palestinians and observed beautiful modern highways designated for Israelis only.
I listened to businessmen, educators, ministers, doctors and farmers tell the stories of the hardships faced every day because of the military occupation of the West Bank.
There were testimonies of Christian, Jewish and Muslim peacemakers, people who are devoting their lives to finding peace with justice for a land holy to them all.
I returned from my first trip resolved to go back. I have seen Israel and the West Bank. In November, I will go to Gaza, dubbed the largest concentration camp in the present-day world.
Every day, I think about the experiences I had, the inspirational people I met and I pray for all involved in the peace process.
I realize that process starts with telling my story that is so different from what is told in the mainstream media.
I encourage all who can to visit the Holy Land, but do so in such a way that the whole story is told and both sides of the wall are seen.