At this year’s Disciple Women Retreat, cabinet members solicited a conversation during the retreat’s luncheon on suggestions for whom the women should support this year as they worked to select their new local spring project. With positive feedback and with a presentation from Amy Jones, The Virginia Disciple Women cabinet voted unanimously to adopt Nature Camp as their 2016-2017 local spring project. Nature Camp provides an opportunity for at-risk children (ages 9-11) to experience a week of a Christian camp and an opportunity for high-school age counselors to develop skills for ministry and service. This is a high-energy week at no cost to their families for young campers to learn about God, sing, swim, enjoy the peace of the mountains, play outdoors, participate in group activities, and be mentored one-on-one by a high school counselor. Counselors teach and model conflict resolution, participation, and cooperation while having fun.
This year’s global project is a choice between supporting the Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees (DSPR) or/and the Orthodox initiative. These projects were selected by women that traveled to Israel and Palestine in the 2015 Woman to Woman Journey.
Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees (DSPR) is a unit of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC). The DSPR reflects the Christian core values in its witness to foster and advance socio-economic conditions of Palestinian refugees in order to improve living conditions and realize basic human rights. The DSPR works toward its vision of a Palestinian society which guarantees pluralism and equal opportunities for all its citizens based on justice, equality of rights, opportunities, and freedom. The DSPR provides services for Palestinian refugees, such as education, health services, improving water access and vocational training in Gaza, the West Bank, Nazareth, Jordan, and Lebanon.
In Beirut, Lebanon, the Woman-to-Woman Worldwide delegates visited the Shatilla refugee camp and a branch of the DSPR, the Joint Christian Committee for Social Service in Lebanon (JCC). JCC provides valuable vocational training and counselling for Palestinian refugee families in Lebanon. Women and families are able to gain training in computer maintenance and repair, administrative skills, and hairdressing through the JCC center. The JCC center at the Shatilla refugee camp also offers a variety of programs to provide education and training, including nursery and kindergarten programs, tutoring for students, a weekly social program for elderly women, and literacy classes for women.
Established in 2011 in response to the refugee crises in Jordan, the Orthodox Initiative is a non-governmental organization based in Amman Jordan as a ministry of the Middle East Council of Churches and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Currently in Jordan over 80 percent of refugees – Syrian and Iraqi – are living outside of refugee camps, which often add extra steps and hurdles in receiving aid and assistance. To provide relief for these individuals, the Orthodox Initiative is implementing and raising funds for a two-fold solution: providing emergency direct assistance while also expanding long-term, sustainable projects that focus on education and community building.
Given the ever-changing nature of the crisis, the Orthodox Initiative is adapting its priorities continuously to provide various types of emergency direct assistance for refugees. These priorities have included providing food, shelter, warm clothing, and also trauma care. In addition, solutions initiated by the community to address longer-term challenges from the refuge crisis in Jordan include raising funds for the nearly completed Youth Center and Nursery. This center and nursery will provide safety and security for all members of the community, both refugees and local people, to join together for social gatherings, youth activities, educational opportunities, and workshops to build local capacity and empowerment.
Collections should begin now during your Disciple Women circle meetings. More information will be forthcoming on how to remit your offerings June 2017 prior to the next women’s retreat.
Vanessa Law, of Pembroke Christian Church in Pembroke, Virginia traveled to Israel and Palestine as Virginia’s Representative. If your church has not yet received Vanessa in your church for a presentation of her journey, Disciple Women of Virginia encourages you to do so. Vanessa’s journey was made possible by donations from Virginia Disciple Women and by a generous scholarship from Global Ministries. You may reach Vanessa by email. Her address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Israel and Palestine