The Tent of Nations is a farm just outside Bethlehem that is surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements. It is owned by the Nassar family and managed by Daoud Nassar who holds a Degree in Biblical Studies from a Bible School in Austria, a BA Degree in Business from Bethlehem University, and a Degree in Tourism Management from Bielefeld University in Germany.
For decades, the family has faced agression from the settlers and the Israeli army (IDF) who dispute their claim to the land. The road to the farm is cut off by boulders put by the IDF to make transporting produce to and from the farm difficult. All in all, the situation at the farm could have led the Nassar family to become bitter and resignate but they have not. Instead, in a spirit of peaceful resistance, they have developed an educational and environmental space which welcomes volunteers and visitors from around the world.
Currently, they are building an Olive Grove Chapel which will be a sacred space for worship amongst the olive groves, supporting efforts to promote peace and justice in the land of Christ’s birth. Wellington Church has supported the project repeatedly over the years and some of our members have visited the farm. This Easter, we would have supported them again with a special collection if the current global pandemic were not preventing us from meeting for worship. Our Mission and Outreach Committee will review how we can support them differently.
Given Wellington’s long engagement with the Tent of Nations, I thought I should share a message Daoud published on their Facebook page today:
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I hope my message to you finds you well and in good health during these uncertain times as Covid-19 paves its way rapidly across our communities and societies affecting our daily lives, altering social, political and economic structures, and introducing fear and panic amongst all.
It is of big important to stand together in the spirit of solidarity these days, to support, encourage and look out for one another as we all go through this dark tunnel.
Apart from the continuous political, social, and economic pressures we are facing in Palestine, Covid-19 has recently found its way to the city of Bethlehem and managed to spread out to various cities in Palestine. Bethlehem as an example, has been under lockdown for a month now following the declaration of state of emergency as soon as the first Covid-19 case was detected, which required people to remain indoors, introduced limitations on movement, and caused for public spaces to immediately shut down in order to stop the virus from spreading out.
At this time, going from Bethlehem to the Tent of Nations is not as easy since most roads are closed, and people are not permitted to move freely. In addition to that, all our short-term and long-term volunteers as well as many visiting groups who were planning to come in March, April and in the next following months had to cancel, which will also affect us economically. Currently, there is a lot that needs to be done on the farm from planting to ploughing, which we could not also carry out and had to postpone due to the current situation.
In such depressing times, we shall find our comfort and strength in our Lord by welcoming Him into our hearts, minds and souls. During this Holy Week, we shall commemorate the unconditional love that has been sent to us by God through Jesus Christ. On Holy Thursday, we shall remember the sign of love and humility as Jesus Christ washed the feet of His disciples before the Last Supper. On Good Friday, we shall remember Jesus Christ’s passion, crucifixion, sacrifice, and death for the sins of mankind offering us a new beginning. Many had thought that the cross was the end of the story, including the disciples of Jesus, and that all hopes had died with Jesus on the cross. However, the cross was not the end, it was the path to resurrection and into a new life where death was not the final word. It is the proclamation of Jesus Christ’s victory over death, in which we commemorate and celebrate on Easter Sunday.
Today, as we go through this difficult time facing hopeless situations, we should always remember that we are the people of hope; we are the people of the resurrection, we need to stand up, wash away this victim mentality, renew our strength, and become again the ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘the light of the world’.
Dear friends, the dark clouds of Good Friday brought showers of rain watering the ground. They brought hope and new life in preparation for the LIGHT on the day of resurrection. This is the good news of the resurrection.
HE is not here for HE is risen!
Stay safe and healthy,
Daoud Nassar & Family
Pictures by Rebecca Gebauer from a trip to the Tent of Nations in summer 2018: