Building Bridges in the Desert


We hope you remember the vibrant and dynamic group of young adult Israeli, Palestinian, and Norwegian believers who met for the first time in Norway last August for part one of the third Bridge Builders trip (a joint project between Musalaha, NCMI, and organizations). There they shared and listened to each other’s experiences and created strong bonds that carried through the last few months. During this in-between time, they took initiative to meet each other both inside and outside of the Musalaha program framework, with a refreshing consistency and sense of devotion. Toward the end of March, during the Easter and Passover holidays, the group reunited in the desert of Wadi Ram, Jordan for the second part of the Bridge Builders experience.

The initial half of the program, in Norway, focused on the “first encounter,” where many concepts were new to the participants and relationships were just beginning to blossom. After months of time to reflect on the subjects that were discussed in part one and to better know one another, the second half of the program sought to bring the group into deeper issues, mainly the topic of identity. Though identity is a part of each one of our lives, we sometimes place the aspects of our identity which may be different than that of the “other” in the background when we are seeking to reconcile. We may feel that it is best to focus on what we have in common in order to create a conversation with the fewest barriers. This caution has its advantages, and by bonding with each other through our similar beliefs, spiritual identity, and interests and struggles of everyday life, we create a relationship that provides the foundation needed for exploration into the beliefs and identities which make us different.  For our Bridge Builders, that foundation was established and became solid ground upon which the participants could securely enter into deeper issues. This security came and continues to come from the simple fact no matter what frustrating, painful or confusing feelings arise while sharing perspectives on the controversial issues of identity and belief, these people love each other. It may be easy to walk away from a stranger whose view is different than yours, but it is not so easy to walk away from a friend.

By Ronit Kory