Stichting Tabitha works with Jews, Christians and Muslims in the West Bank and is coordinated by Revd. Jonathan Esawi
Revd. Jonathan Esawi is a Palestinian Christian pastor who, with his wife Hilda, lives and works in Bethlehem, on the West Bank of the Jordan. Jonathan is leader of Tabitha Ministries, which aims to establish friendship and collaboration between Palestinians and Israelis through the Christian Gospel. A full board of management and support has been established in The Netherlands with sister associations in Germany and the United Kingdom.
Building bridges, the Tabitha Ministries Foundation in the Netherlands draws Jewish, Christian and Muslim people together from the West Bank and Israel. Personal contact is the first step toward mutual understanding and the possibility of friendship. Tabitha works toward the hope that one day, reconciliation will be possible. In taking concrete steps toward reconciliation, Tabitha’s two main activities are:
- providing assistance for Zababdeh, a rural village of some four thousand people with a substantial Christian community in the north of the West Bank;
- hosting a youth camps in the Netherlands (and Belgium) for Christian Palestinian and Messianic Jewish teenagers.
The Revd. Esawi founded Tabitha Ministries as a Palestinian organisation to support the residents of Zababdeh and Tabitha Ministries Netherlands was founded in 2001 to support his work. Since 2010 the Revd. Esawi’s work is also supported by The Hope Christian Trust from the United Kingdom.
Initially, the support for Zababdeh consisted of humanitarian aid, such as the handing out of food parcels and the payment of medical bills and tuition. This expanded into the organisation of Christmas and Easter celebrations, and a summer camp. With the aid of a number of international donors Tabitha Ministries constructed the Zababdeh Community Centre that opened in 2014.
Zababdeh is one of few places beyond Bethlehem on the West Bank where a (substantial) Muslim and Christian community resides together. The centre is a wonderful means to strengthen this sense of community. The centre consists of a playground, cafeteria and kitchen, a multipurpose hall and two classrooms and plans are in place to equip the centre with a number of guest rooms. At the centre there is a nursery, there are after school activities for children, a weekly Bible club and every year there are Christmas and Easter is celebrations held. Also, the centre serves as a base for an annual week-long camp for the children of Zababdeh.
Together with its Belgian sister organization, Tabitha Ministries Netherlands hosts youth camps in the Netherlands and Belgium for Christian Palestinian and Messianic Jewish teenagers. These youth camps are organized in cooperation with Musalaha (which is Arabic for reconciliation). Musalaha was founded by Salim Munayer and promotes and facilitates reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, based on the life and teaching of Jesus. By getting acquainted, young people may better learn to appreciate each other’s situation – and make the first move toward friendship. Successful youth camps were held in 2004, 2007, 2012 and 2016.
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