Thursday, December 20, 2007

Good work being done at Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem

This notice honoring ELCA Pastor Mark Brown, Lutheran World Federation director in Jerusalem, comes from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.

Someone who sticks with something from start to finish is often described as “faithful.” The 2008 Faithfulness in Ministry Cross Award recipients have demonstrated that it takes special tenacity and vision to bring new life to communities struggling to survive. They’ve used their God-given gifts to nurture diverse communities around the world. Among those that Luther Seminary and its Alumni/ae Council honor this year is Mark Brown.

Mark writes to me:

The hospital has been at full capacity these last months. Dr. Nasser and the whole AVH team are doing extremely well to serve and care for so many patients in the current political and economic environment.

At the same time, we continue to improve and expand what AVH has to offer. We have received funding to upgrade the pediatric unit and are well into the renovation process. Hopefully all the work will be completed and new equipment installed by next spring or early summer. Our busing system continues to bring patients and staff to AVH from the West Bank. This is much needed and appreciated especially by the cancer patients and children in need of kidney dialysis who come several times a week.

In the AVH Cancer Care Unit we are preparing to build a chamber that will house a second linear accelerator for radiation therapy. This addition is desperately needed. The one machine at AVH is the only one operating in the West Bank and Gaza serving a population of over 3.5 million. We are also confident that special funding will be available in 2008 to establish a cancer diagnostic center and a psycho-social care center at AVH.

As you can see, a lot of good work (and more than is mentioned here!) is being done at AVH.

The Rev. Mark Brown, Lutheran World Federation, Jerusalem

From the Luther web page -
If Rev. Mark Brown had intended to get in the middle of an intractable problem, he could have done no better. As Regional Representative for the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Jerusalem, Brown negotiates the complex politics of the region while overseeing the LWF's humanitarian programs serving Palestinian refugees and others in need. []

Brown is responsible for the administration and implementation of the LWF programs in Jerusalem and the West Bank. For decades the LWF has provided essential humanitarian services, helped to protect the religious and human rights of the Palestinian people, strengthened the presence and witness of the Christian communities in the Holy Land, and promoted understanding peace and reconciliation.

The LWF work includes Augusta Victoria Hospital, a humanitarian project of the LWF since 1950. [] It is the primary medical facility for Palestinians living in Israel's West Bank. The hospital, hostage to the political winds of Israel and the institution's donor countries, faces continuous financial challenges. Further, the Israeli government's concrete security wall makes reaching the hospital difficult for employees and patients.

"Despite the complex legal issues, Brown has worked cooperatively and creatively to give the hospital a viable future," wrote Professor Craig Koester, '80, in nominating Brown for the award.
Under Brown's leadership, the LWF also runs a job-training program for Palestinians, manages a LWF olive grove and is exploring ways to provide affordable housing in Jerusalem.

“In a region divided by political and religious disputes, the need for such humanitarian work is crucial,” Koester said.

Wrote Pastor Said Ailabouni, ’79, of Nazareth [now Barrington, Ill.], “Mark has been a prophetic voice in the ELCA and globally regarding the need for a just resolution of the Middle East conflict. He refused to be quiet even when it was not popular to speak on behalf of the Palestinians.” He noted Brown’s ability to promote cooperation among disparate groups while not compromising standards of justice.

“I give thanks to God for the gift of Mark Brown, who has been a faithful advocate on behalf of the oppressed and a champion for the poor and powerless,” wrote Ailabouni.

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