The 18 group members didn’t just observe; they rolled up their sleeves and got involved with the local people in a “Partners in Mission” work group held May 5-22 in Israel/Palestine. Participants from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina, led by Dorothy Jean Weaver and Kevin A. Clark of Eastern Mennonite Seminary, spent a week in a work project at Nazareth Village, a re-creation of the village of Nazareth as it would have appeared in Jesus’ day and interprets the story of Jesus to visitors. The group had to don 1st century clothes and remove their 21st century garb, including eye-glasses and watches, to pull weeds, fix a roof and move stones.
The work was done using first-century tools. Here, Dorothy Jean Weaver (l.) and Lois Loeser lead a donkey carrying a large bag of weeds that the group dug by hand. The group then spent some time touring and worshipping in Jerusalem before moving on to Bethlehem to work at the International Center of Bethlehem, a ministry of Christmas Lutheran Church.
The biennial work group, an outreach of Virginia Mennonite Board of Missions in cooperation with Eastern Mennonite Seminary, is designed to give North American Christians a clearer perspective on the everyday life and faith of Palestinian Christians in Israel/Palestine and for participants to bring their stories back to the wider North American church.