The Summer Intensive in Peacemaking and Justice Changes Lives
The Bethlehem Institute of Peace and Justice completed its two-week Summer Intensive in Peacemaking and Justice course (www.bipj.org). Participants from Canada, the United States, Palestine, Belgium, Jordan, and Wales explored the conflict and the difficult road to peace and justice in Palestine and Israel through classroom lectures, field research, readings and student-led in-depth personal interviews.
Conducted every year during the last two weeks of May and based at Bethlehem Bible College, the Intensive was a transforming experience for all sixteen students, whether 18 or 65! It was a time of learning how faith and spirituality intersect with peace and justice. For example, Carter, of the participants, says,
True justice and true peace are accomplished only through pure love and love from God within us. I saw this love in the hospitality and generosity of all we met here through this course. Whether Muslim or Christian, the Palestinians loved us and shared with us their stories. Nothing speaks closer to the heart than stories. Through their generous offers of fellowship, I have seen God’s love shaping the lives here in Palestine. Through this, I see the first steps of justice laid out: an expansive carpet of God’s love being shared between us.
“We explored the quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem, the back streets of Hebron, an agricultural project in Jericho, met Islamic scholars in Nablus, and more. Besides sites of conflict, we also visit places that mark peoples’ faith journeys. A highlight was seeing Nabi Mousa – a shrine in the desert to Moses. This shrine developed through the centuries in the location from which people looked across the Jordan River Valley to Mt. Nebo, where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land before his death.”
Also meaningful for our students is the opportunity to meet new friends, such as Sami, who runs a little tea stall in Bethlehem. Sami served his special brew to us as we sat outside in a narrow walkway. Another friendship our participants made was with Sameer, a Palestinian filmmaker who joined us for the two-week Intensive.
Andrew Bush, the Director of the BIPJ, says, “The Intensive was the final course in our year-long Certificate Program in Peacemaking and Justice. We encourage people to consider enrolling in our asynchronous, hybrid, online courses as we begin a new academic year in September. Then, join us for the Intensive next May! For those planning to attend Christ at the Checkpoint, if you are enrolled in the Intensive, your registration for CATC is free!” (https://bipj.org/courses/certificate-courses/).