Christians in the Holy Land: How They Struggle and How We Can Help

Stephanie EngelmanChurch News, Holy Land, World News

At Tekton Ministries, we believe that every Catholic should visit the Holy Land at least once in their lifetime. The experience of walking where Christ once trod, stepping into the waters of the Jordan where Jesus was baptized, kneeling in prayer where Christ was crucified, and again at the tomb where he resurrected, will strengthen faith in a way that few other experiences can.

The Holy Land experience goes far beyond these holy places, however, and extends to the witness of faith exhibited by Christians living in the area. Amidst a lack of education, high unemployment rates and low wages, these dedicated Christians persevere, striving to live out their faith despite persecution and discrimination.

Unfortunately, though, the struggle oftentimes proves too great, and many Christians are leaving. Church leaders predict that, if the exodus continues, Christianity could cease to exist in this Holy Land within 60 years. Not only is this a major humanitarian concern, it also leaves our most sacred places threatened. Without our help, Christians in the Holy Land will continue to struggle, and, as they flee their homes in search of a better life, we may lose access to our holy sites.

Fortunately, there is an organization working hard to maintain the Christian presence in the Holy Land: The Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL). Founded in 1994, the FFHL is a worldwide ecumenical organization, based in the USA, operating under the auspices of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. The principal purpose of the FFHL is to help stem the Christian exodus from the Holy Land by providing programs and projects that will serve as incentives for the Christians to remain as well as safeguarding the basic human rights of the Christian Palestinian minority living in the Holy Land.

The programs developed and sponsored by the FFHL include educational scholarships from elementary school through university, and a new vocational training program. In addition, the Foundation has numerous humanitarian programs, including affordable housing, a home for boys from abusive backgrounds, several family centers, a soccer program and a musical institute. They also actively provide support to Christians in Syria through health care, food, clothing, and shelter. Finally, they support the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land in its responsibility to maintain 76 shrines in the Holy Land.

While the Holy Land and the Christians in it seem very far away, they remain an important part of our Christian heritage. Tekton Ministries is proud to support the FFHL in its work, and we’d like to encourage you to consider supporting them as well. Here are a few ways to do that: