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Come to Bethlehem and See - A Missionary's Journey

Answering the Call: Donnelly's Journey to Bethlehem to stand in Solidarity for Peace in the Holy Land.



Donnelly McCleland, a seasoned traveller and missionary, has embarked on numerous journeys throughout her life. Each adventure has provided unique insights not only about herself but also about her faith. Despite the challenges of solo travel, Donnelly often finds herself feeling closest to the Lord in these solitary moments, experiencing His presence in remarkable ways.


With a career in missions dating back to 2003, Donnelly's travels have frequently been mission-driven, although not exclusively. For those like her, with a heart drawn to the Arab/Muslim world, Israel hasn't typically been a primary destination due to complexities surrounding access and relationships.


It was, therefore, a bit unexpected to her that she should feel a quickening in her spirit when she heard the words, “Come to Bethlehem and see,” at the start of worship on the Sunday before Christmas last year at Protea Valley Church. It’s not that the words themselves were at all out of place in a pre-Christmas service, it was more that she'd been following happenings in Israel/Palestine for years and particularly since the recent escalations from 7 October. Peacemakers are desperately needed in the region, and so she had signed up for a short three-month course in Peace-making and Justice in a Palestinian context, through Bethlehem Bible College. It was important for her to learn the general principles as well as the location/people-specific ones of the region. "What a joy and privilege it has been to learn from bothers and sisters in Christ, both Jews and Palestinians," says Donnelly.


Part of the course includes a two-week intensive in the country, aimed at providing students with firsthand experiences of the challenges and realities of peace-making in the Israeli/Palestinian context (https://bipj.org/summer-may-intensive-in-bethlehem/). And to bridge the divide between the theory students have learned in the semester-length courses and actual peace-making on the ground. Initially uncertain due to financial constraints and travel challenges, Donnelly felt a renewed sense of purpose after hearing an appeal from Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baGOXzc6CQs), in which he appealed: “We, the people of Palestine, Palestinian Christians in particular, extend a bold invitation, to cross the barriers and checkpoints and come. Come be with us in solidarity, join hands in an effort for justice, to be the Kingdom example we each are called to be in this world.”



Now is a time when believers can put 1 Corinthians 12:26 into practice. It says: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.” A way that we as children of God can show solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering, is to come alongside, especially physically. To experience, even if only in a small, brief way, their daily reality.


Donnelly invites others to join her on this journey or support her financially. Costs include flights, accommodations, travel expenses, tuition, and conference fees.


Donnelly emphasizes the urgency of her mission, with a deadline to purchase her aeroplane ticket by April 15th and departure scheduled for May 11th. She welcomes support in any form – financial, prayer, or otherwise – as she answers the call to action.To get involved or offer support, reach out to Donnelly at donnellym@advocatesinternational.org. Donations can be made to her ABSA cheque account (no. 623246353, branch code 632005) or via PayPal  (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=PGU2U7R37AN7N).


Donnelly McCleland's journey to Bethlehem is a call to stand in solidarity with those who suffer and strive for peace in the Holy Land. We invite you to join her in answering the call.

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