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Beit Sahour and Bethlehem

September 12Palestine_Fight the Evil_Beit Sahour_September 12, 2013While in the West Bank I had the incredible opportunity to connect with one of my dear friends who I first met while studying at The Ecumenical Institute for the World Council of Churches at Bossey in Switzerland.  Ashraf Tannous is now a Lutheran pastor and headmaster, of sorts, at the Evangelical Lutheran Church and School established in 1901 in Beit Sahor (“Shepherd’s Fields”).

Palestine_Ashraf Lecturing_September 12, 2013-90He met up with our group for lunch at Ruth Restaurant located across from the shepherds’ field and owned by some very kind, hospitable Christians, not to mention fantastic chefs.  Ashraf was able to rearrange his busy schedule so he could also join us after our meal in the shepherd’s “field” (park) and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Church in the Shepherds' Field Cave, Beit

Church in the Shepherds’ Field Cave, Beit Sahour

Thanks to Ashraf’s friendships with the Orthodox priests at the Church of the Nativity, I joined him on a special, but tragic tour through the crypt holding the reputed remains of the baby boys whom King Herod had slain (ref. Matthew 2:7-8; 16-18).

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

Palestine_September 12, 2013-97Palestine_September 12, 2013-99Following that visit, he and I departed from my group, were picked up by one of his friends and headed to his church back in nearby Beit Sahour.  It was my first time during the entire trip to be in a local’s car.  It was like crossing this threshold between tourist and guest.  I was now a guest—moreover, a friend.  From here, everything changed.Palestine_Drive Home_September 12, 2013-37