Mission Reflection: Holy Land pilgrimage with Friends of Jerusalem Diocese was revelatory

A mission reflection by Judy Quick

Why does the Holy Land draw me in?   What is it about Jerusalem that holds my heart?

I’ve had the privilege of making the traditional pilgrimage to the Holy Land since the mid 1990s, walking the footsteps of Jesus in the Galilee and in Jerusalem. These pilgrimages to ancient sacred sites formed a deeper appreciation and understanding of my faith.

Pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred place. It can be an inward journey, or a visit to sacred physical sites, or a surprising encounter with Jesus in a school, a hospital, or a rehabilitation center.

Jesus is alive in the Holy Land through the humanitarian ministries of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. In October, the trustees of the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem (AFEDJ) visited schools, hospitals and rehabilitation centers in Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

Judy Quick with friends in the Holy Land. 

In the face of countless obstacles, Christian leaders of these institutions model the love of Christ to serve the disadvantaged and vulnerable of their society, both Christians and Muslims.

We visited the inclusive Arab Episcopal School in Irbid, Jordan, where blind students and teachers work with sighted students and teachers. 

At the Princess Basma Center in Jerusalem, we witnessed mothers learning to care for their children with special needs.  We met Mira, a young woman with cerebral palsy who had learned to walk with a walker at the Center.  Mira convinced school authorities that her physical disability would not impede her ability to learn.  She plans to be an attorney to advocate for children with disabilities.

At the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf in Jordan, I found new meaning for the understanding of mission as the “touch,” touching others and allowing others to touch you.  For deaf-blind students, literal touch is crucial for communication. I watched a teacher gently touch a deaf- blind boy. He responded by touching her.  I was reminded that this is the healing touch of Jesus.

The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem bears witness to the love and healing power of Jesus.  With the the leadership of Archbishop Hosam Naoum, the diocese is building bridges of understanding among the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  We saw hope in the Holy Land, a glimpse of God’s perfect shalom.

As you plan your next pilgrimage to the Holy Land, consider visits to the ministries of the diocese.   Soon you will have access to Bearing Witness, videos and study guides for parishes and dioceses to enlighten and inspire you. For additional resources, visit www.afedj.org. Click here for a 3-minute video about the visit.  

The Rev. Judy Quick serves as a deacon in the Diocese of Alabama and is a trustee of AFEDJ.  She served on the Standing Commission for World Mission, where she contributed to the writing and editing “Becoming a World Where Love is the Way: Guiding Principles for World Mission,” which was commended to the church by the 2022 General Convention. She serves on the National Speaker’s Bureau for Episcopal Relief & Development and is a member of GEMN, where she served as vice president.

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