An Advent Appeal from our Director

Advent is for those who know longing. Advent simply means “coming.” For many of us, it means a watchful yearning. Longing for health to be restored. Families to be restored. Buried dreams to be resurrected. Communities suffocating under occupation to breathe. While we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, we are reminded that we are
still waiting for the one who will wipe every tear, make all things right. We are caught between sorrow and celebration.

Perhaps no one embodies this tension of the “not yet” more than the people of Palestine.

Your gift would bring much-needed encouragement to this long-suffering community.

This past year, a Dar al-Kalima grad captured this restless yet hopeful state in his award-winning short film, Ambience. Wisam al-Jafari’s Ambience tells the story of two young musicians living in a refugee camp, who face a next-day deadline for a music competition. Their efforts to record are thwarted by constant noise interruptions–an inevitable result of 15,000 people crammed into a half square mile. After many attempts, they nearly give up.

Underscoring the frustration of noisy surroundings, is a recognition of a larger struggle–the daily weight of living in the shadow of military occupation. A mother’s concern for her child’s safety at night. Candles that flicker long after the power has gone off, yet again. The utter lack of privacy. A “temporary” housing solution that feels more permanent by the day.

And yet.

In the eleventh hour, the young musicians experience a break through. Rather than recording their own music, they set out to record the sounds of the refugee camp. Instead of waiting for ideal circumstances, they improvise. The result is something altogether unexpected and new. It’s a reclaiming of all that stood in their way.

And isn’t that what this season of advent is about?
While we wait with the less-than-perfect, the broken, God meets us and invites us to create something new.

Like the musicians in the film, we are being invited by our Creator to make something out of this mess. Advent is longing, yes. It’s also the faith that in the midst of the “not yet,” our miracle is being birthed.

The filmmaker’s own story is one of refugee camp to red carpet. Ambience has received numerous awards, including one from Cannes Film Festival. Screening across the world now, its message of hope and resilience birthed out of the impossible, is being heard around the world.

This is our hope. A hope that calls us to tune our ears to the cries of our world. To transform the din of the everyday into to rhythms of a heavenly kingdom. One that is not confined by paper-thin walls and checkpoints.

Palestinians are a people who have longing in their bones.

Will you tune your ears to the cries of Palestinians? You can make this message of hope a reality for countless people, young and old alike.

2,000 years ago, our Lord chose this people, this “Little Town” to begin his work of redemption.

This season, Bethlehemites will be reminded yet again of the emblem of longing that their home is to believers across the world. Manger square will sparkle with lights. Pilgrims from all over the world will spill out of tour buses to see where “the hopes and fears of all the years” were met in a tiny baby.

And yet.

Many in Bethlehem feel forgotten. Even though this good news first came to their hometown. Even though this “good news” was first received by their ancestors, a marginalized people living under military occupation. Just like Wisam and Palestinian musicians and mothers, artists and octogenarians.

Will you join us, in showing our Palestinian sisters and brothers, that this good news is still for them? By making a year-end gift, you tell them that you see their challenges and yet wish to contribute to their joy.

We are so grateful for each of you this season. Together, we hold the tension of what is, and work towards the joy of what can be. And yet, we live in hope.

With gratitude,

Beth Nelson Chase, Executive Director

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Film still from “Ambience”

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