The 13th of December was a day we marked at Musalaha as the Chairman of the Board of Musalaha, Evan Thomas, tendered his intention to step down from his role and give room for the new generation to lead the ministry of reconciliation. Evan has been a stable and thoughtful leader these past 30 years, and we gathered to thank him for his service and wish him “calm seas and a breeze to his back.”
The evening brought together a room full of dear friends and family, who have shared the Musalaha journey with Evan, to honor and celebrate our great heritage that he has been a kingpin in creating. A heritage, he explained, that is rooted in “relationships deeply imbedded in the Kingdom of God.” As well as sharing a meal, personal speeches and prayers, our staff member, Hedva Haymov, illuminated some of the key milestones Evan has helped Musalaha achieve. Here are just a few of the highlights from her touching speech:
“In this Land, people and realities are constantly changing. As they say, “The only thing that never changes is change.” Evan and Salim saw a need for change in the Believing community almost 3 decades ago, and have worked together to help people to reconcile ever since. Reconciliation is not easy and not for the faint of heart and the fact that they have continued in this path for 30 years is no small feat.
Since Musalaha’s beginning, Salim and Evan found that the Desert Encounter was a place to listen to each other and hear also from God. Ever since then, the Desert Encounter has been the place where change takes place, and over and over we hear that the Desert Encounter is the most life-changing experience people have participated in. Thank you, Evan, for leading multiple desert encounters and opening the way for people to listen and learn from each other.
Musalaha invested in women’s ministry which has been a key department for Musalaha where Evan has taught and led exercises. Women who were not able to teach, preach or lead in their own communities were able to find that voice at Musalaha WHILE also working on perceptions of the “other”. Musalaha has not only been an instrument of change between Palestinians and Israelis, but also in the role of women in the Body of the Messiah.
After working with the women’s ministry for 20 years, Musalaha wrote and published a curriculum of the six Stages of Reconciliation. 22 steps to forging a long-lasting and deeply felt conviction and commitment to the “other”. This curriculum has been to the four corners of the world now, and is in use with other conflict areas to promote reconciliation. Only last year, Salim was asked to train a clergy group from the UK in reconciliation, so that they will be prepared to use the curriculum in their parishes. It has been used in Christian groups, in military settings and in youth groups and community groups all over the world. In addition, Musalaha has created the Youth Curriculum for training Youth Leaders, written numerous articles and authored many books, of which Evan has contributed greatly.
The Young Adults, Israelis and Palestinians, have been to Cyprus, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, France and other countries to encounter each other and to join with Europeans, while exploring their own identities. Evan and his wife, Maala, led the Sand and Sound experience for Young Adults in the USA, which influenced many of our sons and daughters. Hedva states: “My daughter participated in a trip which not only gained her life-long friendships, but helped her mold her own identity as a Messianic Jew, affirm her beliefs and give her confidence to battle life’s challenges. I don’t think we should minimize the affect these Musalaha encounters have on the participants’ lives.”
Evan has been working in many areas in his life to see change in people’s attitudes and perceptions and, hopefully, actions as well. We are grateful that Evan chose Musalaha to put his shoulder to the wheel with us all these many years.
Hedva leaves us with this quote from Margaret Mead, the famous Anthropologist:
‘Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.’”
Evan’s contribution to all these activities and more, and his influence over decision making for Musalaha leave a powerful legacy.
Stepping into this, we are happy to welcome Racheli Pex as our new Board member, effective of this month. We will introduce Racheli in our next newsletter.