Walking to Emmaus

by Salam Qumsiyeh last modified 11 May 2015 04:10 PM
Walking to Emmaus

Group photo, Sweden 2014.

11 May 2015

After a long walk in the streets of Bethlehem, we finally had the chance to wander around in the market for a couple of hours.

Each Palestinian had to be a leader for some of the youth that were in the group, so a South African, two Germans, and a Swede formed my group.

While hanging around on the roads, we passed by some tourist buses. One of the youths who were with me said: “Wow, there are a lot of tourists in Bethlehem. I’m glad I’m not a tourist but a pilgrim!”

I stood there for a moment and thought about what he said…: “I have been living here for 24 years, and I have seen thousands of tourists coming in and out every day, but they never talked to us. Do these tourists even know who we are?! Or what we think, or how we live?! At that moment I realized that one of the important roles the “Walking to Emmaus” project is aiming to play actually worked!

In August 2014, I was chosen by my congregation to be part of the “Walking to Emmaus” project, which was about getting around 70 youth together from Sweden, Germany, South Africa, and Palestine, to walk the path of Jesus and his disciples.

My other Palestinian friends and I went to Sweden, started “Walking to Emmaus,” got to know new friends, who after 8 days became best friends, walked a lot, had meetings, had the chance to talk about each other’s lives and experiences, and spent some time getting to know each other more and have fun. “Walking to Emmaus” was definitely a successful idea.

But, the story didn’t end here. It actually just started…

In April 2015, “Walking to Emmaus” continued, and this time in Palestine, my land. I am, now, walking in the streets that I have been walking in my whole life with my friends, who became now close friends rather than best friends. I even had the chance to show them my house and my neighborhood while we were walking from the Shepherds’ field in my town to the Nativity Church in Bethlehem city.

While walking in Palestine, I could confidently and gladly talk about my life as a Palestinian, and as a Christian from Palestine, referring to the streets and the places we were at. Moreover, the other Palestinians and I had the chance to lead the walking trails from time to time, which gave us a great feeling.

As a Palestinian, I believe that one of the tools that can be used to fight for the Palestinian cause is to spread the word, to let the whole world understand what is really happening in Palestine, and what they can do to help Palestine gets its freedom, and honestly, that’s what I was doing through “Walking to Emmaus”, by answering all the questions of the group about the situation and talking about the daily lives of the Palestinians.

As this experience affected the international youth, it affected us –Palestinians – as well! I can assure that the whole “Walking to Emmaus” experience affected each one of us. This well organized project gave us strength to continue our lives with peace, sustainability, and love. Walking to Emmaus strengthened our faith and hope.

No goodbyes… I’ll see you soon, my friends!