By Becky Jungkuntz

We want to thank you again for your generous support of our mission trip to Bethlehem, Palestine. God’s grace and protection were evident throughout the trip. We had no delayed flights, no lost luggage, and no one got sick. We felt  we were in a bubble of protection. We’re so thankful for the faithful prayers of God’s people.

If you haven’t had a chance to read our blog we’d encourage you to take a look. It will give you the details of our days of touring and our key impressions of what we experienced as it unfolded.

By God’s grace our workshop was well received. Below is the note we received from our host after returning home.

I am really very overwhelmed, and can’t find appropriate words to describe the whole team and all the topics. It was simply beyond my imagination! What a wonderful, highly qualified , professional, committed and most important faithful team! 

All the participants, including me, were impressed by their faithfulness to their loved ones who were Alzheimer’s patients. The way they explained all the issues and related the information to their daily life challenges and testimonies was really amazing. 

We had 18 participants from different organizations. We had a nurse and a social worker from the Palestinian Ministry of Health/psychosocial Health Department; two nurses from one of the senior homes in Bethlehem, one nurse from one of the rehabilitation hospitals, one nurse from a geriatric diabetic center; a director of a nursing home, who with other volunteers established this nursing home.

The rest are either volunteers in different older adults clubs, or care givers in other elderly groups. All really reflected very positive feedback, and wished this workshop could be repeated for other professionals and include more people to be educated in this regard.

mission to bethlehemWe certainly went into this seminar with much fear and trembling, but God was faithful! Our group included Christians and Muslims. Dad did a great job sharing a devotion each morning that touched on topics such as “Who is your neighbor,” “Forgiveness,” and “Facing Death.”

We had lunch together each day which allowed us a little informal time to try to get to know individuals. I connected with a woman who works for the Palestinian Ministry of Health. She is struggling because her son has severe ADHD and is not treated well in his school. I am working on gathering resources to send to her as she works to advocate for her son.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to offer assistance beyond the scope of the workshop. So, by God’s grace we hope to have left a blessing.

What are we taking away from this experience? How would we summarize what we’ve learned?

Entering into Palestinian Bethlehem through the checkpoint and seeing the wall of separation brought the deeper purpose of our team’s mission into focus. The people of Bethlehem are visibly surrounded by a large security wall – yet the reality is we are all surrounded by walls.

Dementia is a wall separating people from productive work and friends and family. Other health issues create walls or barriers. There are political walls, ethnic walls, religious walls, relational walls, and the ultimate wall – death.

What is the answer to all of these walls? JESUS!

What is the answer to all of these walls? JESUS!

Only the resurrected Jesus can pass through locked doors and stony hearts and bring down walls that separate people from one another.

Our team’s prayer is that through our presentations on best practices for dementia care the deeper message of a savior named Jesus, born in this very town of Bethlehem many years ago, still has the power to break down walls and bring salvation and hope to all people both for this life and for eternity.

Another important lesson that was highlighted for us personally is that of walking in other people’s shoes and trying to listen to all sides of a story before rushing to judgment. As we listened to the stories of Palestinians and their hardships, we were moved by their plight. It was easy to begin making judgments about Israelis based on some of the things we heard.

Upon returning home, we sought out the input of a Messianic Jewish friend of ours, an American who immigrated to Israel 32 years ago to share Yeshua with the Jewish people. His stories and perspective also reflect important truths that also need to be understood.

Again we recognize that human suffering exists on all sides of this complicated issue and that only in Jesus is there potential for true reconciliation and peace.

So once more we are thrown back on the Lord and led to pray:
Lord Jesus, fill us daily with your Spirit, so that we can respond to people’s needs
both with compassion and wisdom. Amen!