Charity Tells of Suffering in Holy Land

"We cannot change the whole world but we can change the world for one person at a time," said the Chief Executive of BibleLands, Nigel Edward-Few.

Speaking at a BibleLands service of celebration and thanksgiving in central London on Saturday, Edward-Few and other presenters outlined the challenges facing millions of people in the Holy Land.

"There is a lack of opportunity for many, a lack of care for those with special need, massive unemployment, poverty and a lack of basics," he told the congregation.

"I just want us to reflect on the ease of our lives and the ease of our journeys compared with those in Israel, in the Occupied Territories, in Gaza. Each country has its own needs. Each has its own challenges."

BibleLands is a Christian charity that works in partnership with Christian-led Projects in Israel, Lebanon and Egypt.

The reality of the conflict in the Holy Land was brought into sharp relief by the absence of the event's main speaker, Suhaila Tarazi, director of the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza, who was refused a visa to the United Kingdom by Israel despite appeals from BibleLands and the Bishop of Jerusalem.

Tarazi's address was read out to the 200 people gathered at St. Michael's church.

In it, she told of the "appalling" conditions in Gaza, where Israeli air and sea blockades have left 1.5 million people struggling with severe shortages in food, medicines and other basic necessities.

The Ahli Hospital continues to treat primarily poor people as part of the Diocese of Jerusalem's humanitarian mission in Gaza, where 80 percent of the population is dependent on aid.

"We are in desperate need of your different means of support and prayers," she said in her address. "We must continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all Palestinians."

She asked Christians to pray for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories and the Gaza blockades.

"Let us also pray for independent Palestinian state to be alongside the State of Israel, for Arabs and Jews to live in dignity and mutual respect and for peace and justice in the Middle East and the whole world," she said.

The service included a sermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, Vicar of Christ Church in Virginia Water, Surrey, and author of Zion's Christian Soldiers and Christian Zionism: Road Map to Armageddon?.

On the conflict in the Holy Land, he commented, "Sadly, some of our brothers and sisters in Christ have been part of the problem rather than the solution."

Sizer preached from the New Testament book of Luke on the parable of the good Samaritan, reminding Christians of the need to regard all people as neighbors.

Edward-Few urged Christians to be informed on the conflict in the Holy Land, go on pilgrimages to the region and support organizations like BibleLands that are working towards reconciliation and peace in the region.