One hundred and seventy-eight steps. That’s how many steps to the top of the bell tower at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem. From that vantage point, you get the best view of the Old City of Jerusalem. The seventeen members of Canadian Lutheran World Relief’s Global Encounter 2010 walked those steps today and had a perfect view of the rich array of religious life in this city held holy by Jews, Muslims and Christians. As well, the view of the Mount of Olives and Augusta Victoria Hospital was spectacular.
But the real treat was an hour-long conversation with Bishop Hanib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJH). Bishop Younan reminded us that the Christian accomplishments in this region over the last 2,000 years should never be forgotten. He spoke of the strategic use of education and how 45% of the 3,000 students in Lutheran schools are Muslim.
“We are not trying to convert these children to Christianity” Bishop Younan said. “We are trying to make them good Lutherans.” By that he meant the church’s strategic purpose in the education field is to teach a way of moderation and cooperation.
He also emphasized the great works of diakonia being practices in the areas of health care and social welfare.
The ECJHL is the sixth largest Christian church in the region. However when asked how many members the church had he said, “Numbers do not mean anything. The important thing is the strength of the witness.” There is no doubt that the leaders and members of the ELCJHL and their bishop are powerful witnesses to what can be accomplished with strategic thinking and strong focus.
Bishop Younan thanked the CLWR constituency for their strong support of the ELCJHL and its ministries and urged Canadian Lutherans to remain engaged in the work of CLWR and its partner, the Lutheran World Federation.