While many associate “mission” with proselytization, mission can take many, many forms. Fact finding missions are particularly exigent many contexts. For example, the total collapse of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority means that there is not even scant optimism among Palestinians of productive resolution of conflict any time soon. The continuing cantonization of the West Bank and Gaza. The continuing drift in Israel toward right wing policies has produced a strident form of Jewish fundamentalism that finds expression in Jewish, zionist terrorism. The so-called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has gained momentum internationally and has met with enhanced Israeli efforts to suppress the movement. These efforts include attempts at censorship, penalization of Israeli NGOs, deportations of ex-patriot B.D.S. activists and banning entry to Israel of B.D.S. sympathizers and activists. Most recently, tension among Israeli groups on opposite ends of the political spectrum is exposing internal fissures among Israelis. Tension between Israel and the Palestinians spikes periodically and threatens to spill over into open hostility. This tension is often focused on the Temple Mount/Haren esh Sherrif.
Thus, the response of Christians and the role of the Church has also changed.
Our fact finding missions are designed to introduce participants to the new and evolving circumstances on the ground in Israel/Palestine, as well as provide the historic perspective and theological framework that is necessary to evaluate future initiatives. These programs expose participants to a wide variety of people representing different bands on the political spectrum, including governmental and non-governmental personnel. Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian, both religious and secular perspectives are included.
A second emphasis of these programs is solidarity, i.e., to engage in an intentional ministry of Christian presence for those whose lives are disrupted by violence and fear and who continue to perform relief and advocacy roles under extraordinarly difficult circumstances. These missions provide emotional and spiritual support that has a fortifying effect on people who feel themselves isolated, misunderstood, vulnerable, and abandoned.
These missions also equip participants with essential skills of advocacy, including lobbying strategies and communications tactics so that the participants can return to their home environments better prepared to effectively “tell the story” and make a positive difference with the information they have gathered.