Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Amy Kienzle: Life lessons from the people of Palestine

Pastor Amy Kienzle served as an ecumenical accompanier in Hebron and introduces us to the community there in her excellent feature story, "Life lessons from the people of Palestine," published in The Epistle, the magazine of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

Here is a sample:
"In May, I returned from three months in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestineand Israel. My placement was in the city of Hebron in the southern West Bank. Our work was to live with and accompany Palestinians and Israelis working for peace and an end to occupation. This included monitoring checkpoints every day as children went to and from school, being a protective presence in places where there has been tension with Israeli army and settlers, visiting with people in their homes and listening to their stories, and documenting and reporting human rights violations.

"This work has profoundly changed me in ways that I can’t articulate or even discern yet. It will be through sharing the stories of the people and my own experiences that I will begin to understand what it all means for my life and work. I would like to share a few of the things I learned in Hebron and from the Palestinians, who so generously welcomed us into their lives.

"Dignity and hospitality are inextricably linked
The village of Amniyr in the South Hebron Hills was demolished three times while we were there. On March 29 we went to see the damage done that morning, when the Israeli army bulldozed the tents that the Red Cross had given the people to live in the last time their homes were destroyed. We walked from family to family, offering our sympathy for their loss. At every demolished home site were small fires with kettles atop them. The people offered us tea and invited us to drink with them around the rubble of their homes. Even though they had lost so much, still they gave what little they had. Their dignity remained intact. They didn’t need houses to provide welcome and hospitality to a stranger."

Please read Amy's full article at this web link: 
Go to pages 10-11 to find Amy Kienzle's story, "Life lessons from the people of Palestine."

Amy concludes:
"Although my work as an Ecumenical Accompanier is done (at least for now), I now begin the work of being an Ecumenical Advocate. I will speak on behalf of the people I met in Palestine, whose voices are often lost when we talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is work to which everyone who cares about justice is called.

"If you are one of those people, you can help bring peace by telling our Congress that we support real negotiations for peace and we do not want our tax dollars spent on home demolitions and checkpoints that keep people from having the freedom God promises to all people. It is the work of God’s kingdom, to bring peace with justice to people everywhere. Wouldn’t it be a sign of God’s promise if this could be a reality in the Holy Land! Insha’allah (God willing).

"To learn more about the situation you can check out the links on my blog at or the Peace not Walls website of the ELCA ( There is a new blog there that keeps people informed of the issues and what we can do to help bring peace with justice to the Holy Land."

Read Amy's entire story on pages 10-11 of The Epistle, Summer 2011 edition.

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