Community with Living Stones

Journey with us in the Holy Land

Happy New Year from the Charlotte airport! We (Michael and B.J. Connor) are about to spend three months in Old City, Jerusalem, at Ecce Homo guest house, a hospitality ministry of the Sisters of Sion (a French religious order). We’ll be serving meals to pilgrims and others, staffing the front desk, etc. This will be an adventure, meeting sojourners from around the world, going to biblical sites, and visiting colleagues in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and elsewhere.

Mike is a retired biostatistician, B.J.’s a writer, and we’re crazy about our kids and grandkids. This is Mike’s fifth Holy Land trip, B.J.’s third. We’re enthused about spending time with, not just ancient stones, but LIVING stones – the current residents.  

Our circuitous route to Jerusalem began 16 years ago in India.

To celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, we went on an eyeglass mission trip to Bangalore, India; a few years later, to Sucre, Bolivia. We were hooked! Why be just tourists when we could partner with ministries to share Christ’s love as well as experience other cultures?

Subsequently, Mike was a trainer on a team-building mission trip to Bethlehem. He fell in love with the Holy Land and its people. Eager to learn more about Israel and Palestine, he read numerous books and articles. Mike now leads the Palestine Ministry at our church (St. John’s Lutheran, Salisbury, NC), which partners with Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem. Mike has also served in the West Bank for three months as an Ecumenical Accompanier under the auspices of the World Council of Churches. He provided “protective presence” for vulnerable Palestinians like remote shepherds and school children. He was blessed “living life” with Palestinians. 

The Ecce Homo volunteer program is now affording both of us the opportunity to go beyond the typical tourist experience. We’ll be able to spend contemplative time at ancient sites, and imagine life thousands of years ago. But more importantly, we’ll be privileged to be in community with people living there now. This blog is to share with you their, and our, narratives, joys, and challenges.

We welcome your prayerful support and feedback. Thank you in advance.

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