A dozen international peacemakers from 10 countries around the world will visit congregations and presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from Sept. 24-Oct. 18.
They will share their stories about church-based ministries in their countries that seek peace justice and pursue peace in the name of Jesus Christ. This year's international peacemakers come from Bolivia, Central Asia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Israel/Palestine, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sudan.
The International Peacemaker program is sponsored by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.
George Abdalla is a Palestinian Christian who lives in Jerusalem. He works with his father in the family's travel agency/tour guide business, a business he will one day inherit from his father. Through the business, Abdalla has become friends with the Rev. Victor Makari, the PC(USA)'s area coordinator for the Middle East, who recommended Abdalla for the International Peacemakers program. Abdalla graduated from Earlham College in Indiana.
Where will you be going?
- Alaska Presbytery
- West Jersey Presbytery
- Mid-Kentucky Presbytery
- Salem Presbytery
- North Alabama Presbytery
What is the situation in your country that you will be addressing?
"Christians are only 1.5 percent of the population in Israel/Palestine. There are just 10,000 Christians in Jerusalem. I grew up in Jerusalem. I've been a Christian all my life, so we do exist in Israel/Palestine. I may be Americanized, but I'm still Palestinian, so I want the same basic freedoms for Palestinians that all people want. Something needs to be done to halt the suffering, which is not acceptable for anyone."
How are the faith communities addressing this situation?
“Lots of Christians are fed up with the churches. There is a perception that they're just milking the people for money. There has to a plan for Christians and others to work together to solve these problems. Too many church leaders have become too passive in order to be accepted and it's sad. We need more charismatic religious leaders who are not consumed by politics."
What lessons from your situation are you trying to communicate to U.S. Presbyterians?
"Human communication, cooperation and understanding are essential. The whole world needs a more substantial understanding of the Middle East. Fox News is not it. We do business on a personal level — my father personally meets every group. As a result we are blessed with really good friends and have opportunities to bridge gaps of understanding in our own country and in the U.S."
What is the primary message you want to communicate to U.S. Presbyterians?
"I'm optimistic. I'm not looking for money. I just want our U.S. Presbyterian friends to be knowledgeable and to keep Christianity alive in Jerusalem and the Holy Land by coming to visit, learn, worship and serve."