Division and Hope in the Holy City
As this newsletter goes out the Division and Hope program will be commencing its final day. This course is a joint program with the Anglican Centre in Rome, and it has been a powerful experience for everyone: participants and presenters.
As our second last day draws to a close and I sit to reflect on the insights we have been offered, many of our family and friends will be observing Halloween. This was no ‘trick or treat’ day for us, although it had its share of horrors and blessings.
We began the day with an extended visit to the Caritas center here in Amman, spending more than an hour with a small group of Iraqi refugees. These Christians from villages near Mosul shared their stories of tragedies that compelled them to leave their homes. They spoke of the horrors that have befallen their families. They shared their dream of a new life in Australia or some other place of assylum far from the violences that has torn up their lives. They asked us what the churches were doing to help them.
To protect them and their families, no photos will be posted here. Suffice to say we left with deep respect for their courage and their faith, and immense sadness at the tragedies that have engulfed them. And some anger at the bureaucratic processes that delay their dream of a new life and seem not to see them as people. They were real people for us this morning, and they have challenged us to act for their sakes and the sake of the millions more like them.
The photo that follows is from another event a little later in the day, when we meet with local Christian leaders at the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies in Amman.
Here we met not with refugees but with local Christian leaders, who spoke with one voice about the destruction inflicted on the communities of the Middle East by the colonial and military adventures of Europe. As one priest said most eloquently: “Take our money. Take our oil. Just leave us in peace, and stop sending your weapons here.”
After dinner we met with the Rev. Dr. Khalid Freij and his wife, Rana. They spoke about the work of the Christian community in Jordan, and especially the Anglican Church here. They described the good relations between Muslims and Christians, and the impact on everyone from the violence in the region. We were blessed to hear something of their mission as a Christian couple engaged in God’s work together, and we sensed the hope they offer to the people they serve.
One deep conviction emerging from this course, and especially coming directly after the Living Stones course that concluded the day before this one commenced, is that the College needs to strengthen its involvement in the ministry of reconciliation. That will be a serious challenge for us, but it is one to which I am committed as Dean.