Two students from UMass Amherst give their reactions to visiting Shevet Achim, an Israeli organization providing children with congenital heart defects in the Middle East lifesaving treatment.
"Shevet Achim reminded me of the faith and hope I have for humanity. I do not believe all humans are inherently good but I do believe that we can learn to know what it means to be good. The power of care, concern, and will shines through Agnus Bruna in her pursuit to provide for others. I believe that "good" is possible with organizations and women like her. I think that visiting Agnus Bruna and learning about Shevet Achim really helped ground me for the rest of my trip in Israel. Participating in dialogues to help disprove common misconceptions of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank can be a part of good work. Although, we were learning about the conflict and hearing opposing and complex perspectives, I'm grounded by what I'm willing to serve and provide for humanity in any way I can: through conversations, asking questions, and direct action. Just like Agnus Bruna."
Black Student Union, Social Justice and Empowerment Committee
"When I was told we were visiting the church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is on the spot where Jesus was crucified, I started to cry. As a Christian what was done on that spot is the centerpiece of my faith and the thought of being there moved me to tears. However the reality of being in the church was very different from what I imagined. It was extremely ornamented- decorated with gold and other precious metals, priceless painting and artifacts, etc. I felt that in the midst of all this decoration the truth of Jesus sacrifice became secondary. People referred to it as the holiest site, but the reality of Christianity is that it doesn't matter how beautiful a church is, what matters is that people's lives are changed by the gospel. It can so easily become about rituals and how something looks without remembering God pursues the human heart. It was actually visiting the shebet achim, the Christian charity that brings Arab children with heart problems to Israeli doctors to be treated, that I felt had Christianity right. It wasn't about the ornamentation, but the woman we talked to beautifully resembled the heart of Jesus- who is the prince of peace, born in a lowly manger to a poor refugee family and was sent to bear the sins of humanity so we can know the love of God.
As a 19 year old, my future is very much still unknown, but visiting this charity on the David Project has influenced that for me. I want to serve others no matter their religion or anything that makes us different. I want to be a peacemaker and bring Gods light to this incredibly complicated world."