A Little Thing: Embracing the Middle East

EMTE can you see meI’ve blogged before about how as a young Christian I felt put under pressure to change the world…literally get out there and Change It; be a History Maker. The teaching was to think big, think grand scale. It is only as I’ve lived a bit longer that I recognise that in the main, the world is changed through small acts for individuals. I stopped being paralysed by the pressure, stopped waiting for a big ‘calling’ and decided to get on with stuff that felt right and might help.

I’ve spent every Wednesday afternoon for the past year and a bit at Embrace the Middle East playing with photos, sorting through thousands taken over the last 6-7 years, dating, tagging and storing them on a database so they can be found easily for marketing and fundraising. If you’ve worked for any sort of organisation that generates photos and from time to time needs one or two, but your e-filing system is like most organisation’s systems – bloody unfathomable – you’ll understand why Embrace advertised for a volunteer to sort theirs out.

It isn’t hard work, there is skill involved in knowing how to tag and categorise photos well, but anyone could do it.  It isn’t a Big Thing using all my Skills and Talents and Gifts but I know I’m helping. The staff are encouraging and thankful, telling me what I’m doing is helping them do their jobs. I feel part of the team.

 

Embrace is an umbrella organisation*, providing expertise and financial support to a multitude of charities and groups in Israel, Palestine, Egypt and the Lebanon.  I’ve spent the last years worth of Wednesday afternoons looking at pictures (which I can’t share here but see loads on their website) of happy kids in schools that wouldn’t exist without Embrace’s support, ditto photos of teenagers and adults with learning difficulties in vocational training centres. There are photos of kids with special needs playing in lovingly built care homes and pictures of adults with their own market stalls bought and run with the help of micro-loans, earning a living in the toughest of neighbourhoods.
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I particularly love the photos of the beautiful lands, the sea, mountains and deserts. Over Christmas I worked for the Futuremakers team, who oversee the child sponsorship programme. I stuffed envelopes full of Christmas cards and drawings, from both the sponsored kids and the sponsors as they corresponded, sharing moments of their lives and their hopes and wishes for the future.

But then there are the pictures of babies in on dirty beds in intensive care facilities where the ceiling is barely staying up over their heads. Pictures of parents holding their children in the bomb craters that used to be their home. Pictures of the Israeli-West Bank Separation wall tearing families apart and keeping them in poverty.

Pictures of daily life.

I have poured over beautiful words and images of these people trying to live in a place I can barely imagine, trying not to let the team see me cry.

This supposedly Little Thing I am doing is shaking me to my core.

I regret that I have only recently started learning about and paying proper attention to what is happening in this part of the world which as a follower of Jesus I probably should have been interested it before. The conflict in Israel, Palestine, Egypt and Lebanon is unimaginable. It is entrenched. It is complicated. There are no easy answers.

But I know the powerful are still oppressing the weak. Whether it be Israel illegally occupying Palestine, or Hamas using the people they claim to represent and protect as human shields, those with least now have even less.

As we see Operation Protective Edge take its toll, I know the amazing work being done by Embrace and its component parts is more important than ever.

So after all this I just want to ask – please help if you can – their Gaza Appeal details are here.

Mark 9:37 reads: “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me – God who sent me.”

*Embrace the Middle East’s Mission in their own words:  We aim to improve the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the Middle East. We do this by partnering with local Christians who provide health, education and community development programmes to those in need – regardless of their faith or nationality.Embrace the Middle East is a non-governmental, inter-denominational charity.

 

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