There is a great cultural diversity in the Holy Land, as well as Arabs and Jews, as Arabs and Jews, there are a significant number of Filipinos, American, German, and people from many other countries around the world who live study and work together in Haifa. For 18 years, the Community has collaborated with the Melkite Church in various initiatives that announce the love of God and the peace that only Christ can give. In April of this year, the Shalom Work moved to a new place that we call the Merkaz Salam (Peace Center) where five prayer groups meet – four in Arabic and one in Hebrew.
Six members of the Community of Life and seven from the Covenant Community – two Brazilians and five Arabs – are at the forefront of missionary activities. Marcelo, who coordinates the work of the Mission, shares the fact that the number of people attending the Merkaz Salam has grown is because their desire for God is great. According to Marcelo, cultural differences do not represent obstacles to the proclamation of Jesus Christ.
“All the people will run there to Mount Zion” (Jer 31,12), says Marcelo, quoting the Holy Scriptures. He explains that the proclamation of the Gospel in the Holy Land happens through one-on-one contact. Regarding the prayer groups, he says that the meetings take place as in all the other Missions of the Community. “The same Shalom praise, the same openness to the Holy Spirit and the Way of Peace.
The vocation is taking shape
For the missionary, seeing the people who adhere to Shalom charism is a great grace. “We realize that the vocation is taking shape.” Marcelo also says that “participants in our Community see us and want to become consecrated as well.” Faced with all this, he affirms that responsibility for maintaining and growing the Community is great and for this reason it is necessary to seek sanctity more and more.
Marcelo also stresses that accompaniment (a missionary, through prayer, intercession and listening to the person, helps him/her both humanly and spiritually in a process of growth and maturation) is one of the most requested community services. “They believe in our prayer as missionaries, to the point of asking for intercession for academic exams at any time, such as the one for guidance.”
Young people in the Holy Land
There are many differences between the young people of Israel, but they have the same desires, they seek happiness and they look for something new and spiritually meaningful. Some are carrying out their plans, others are in the process of decision while others do not think about the future. What strikes me about all of them is the ability to welcome”, shares Marcelo.
He comments that young people are open to “differences” because they live with different cultures, but on the other hand they keep their traditions and family customs. In Shalom Work, the two prayer groups for young people “give me a lot of joy”, he says.
Immediately upon arriving to the Holy Land, the culture had a great impact on Marcelo. He needed to learn the language, the customs and even to participate in mass in the Melkite rite. It was like returning to childhood and having to learn everything.
After six months, he coordinated the first community prayer and everything was written in a notebook to avoid mistakes, of course. However, some words were incorrect and sounded odd, much to the participants’ amusement and laughter, but warm and accepting understanding. “They are enthralled because we strive to learn their language and therefore feel the desire to teach us”, says Marcelo.