Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem are invited to take part in an Eastertide campaign to support the ministry of the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf (HLID) a K-12 boarding school located in Salt, Jordan. Founded in 1964, HLID was the first school for the deaf in Jordan and remains the only school in the country with programs for deaf-blind children and vocational training. HLID has been hit hard by the pandemic. The appeal, sponsored by the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem (AFEDJ), offers Episcopalians an opportunity to make gifts that will transform a child’s life while supporting the ministry and witness of Holy Land Christians.
Despite the dwindling Christian presence in the Middle East, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s commitment to offering humanitarian ministries plays an out-sized role in the region. Its more than two dozen schools, hospitals, and centers for children with disabilities across five countries serve all people with dignity and respect without regard to their religion, ethnicity, or ability to pay.
“We are people of the resurrection and this Easter Appeal reminds us that Christ has overcome death and has given us life in its abundance,” said the Diocese of Jerusalem Bishop Coadjutor Hosam Naoum on a call with U.S. church leaders last week. “Since I am in Jerusalem, next to the Holy Sepulcher and the empty tomb, I’m reminded this is the city of hope, the city of the resurrection. We are entrusted with this mission in the Holy Land – to be a beacon of hope, love, and peace in this world. We are doing this ministry not only for ourselves, but we do this on behalf of every single Christian in the world.”
Bishop Naoum, who will be installed as the 15th Bishop of Jerusalem on May 13, went on to say that the Easter Appeal to support the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf is a “manifestation of the hope that exists within our communities, our institutions, and within our diocese of this wonderful, important partnership we have with our American friends.”
On the same call the Rev. Canon Matthew Dayton-Welch, rector of St. Alban’s Church in Newtown Square, PA, and an AFEDJ trustee, shared his experience at HLID. “I’ve had the privilege of visiting HLID twice. It is the closest thing to heaven on earth that I have ever seen. You can tell the students are at home there, that they can thrive and grow. You see the love the staff and chaplains give. Every visit ends too soon. I can’t wait to go back.”
Parishes may make a church-wide appeal to members, choose to donate the offering from an Easter service, or offer a gift through an outreach program. The appeal’s goal is to raise $100,000 and provide ten deaf and deaf-blind students with tuition, room and board, and therapeutic services.
“With the education and love they receive at HLID, the children have a shot at a productive life, either moving onto higher education or to a stable job,” said AFEDJ’s Executive Director John Lent. “There’s no other service for these children, most of whom come from extremely impoverished families. A comparable education in this country would cost six figures. For these children, it really is the difference between a life of hope and a life of hopelessness.”
Downloadable resources for the 2021 Easter Appeal such as flyers, a brochure, story cards featuring a new student each week of Eastertide, a bulletin insert, an invitation letter from AFEDJ Chair, Bishop Greg Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia, as well as video interviews with Bishop Hosam Naoum and HLID faculty and staff are available at www.afedj.org/easter.
AFEDJ is a nonpolitical, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to transforming lives of the vulnerable and displaced in the Middle East through support of the schools, hospitals, and centers for children with disabilities that are owned and operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in Palestine, Jordan, Israel, Syria and Lebanon. Learn more at www.afedj.org