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'We were able to walk where Jesus walked': Pastor strives to become peacemaker while visiting the Holy Land

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Pastor encounters Arab/Israeli conflict during attempts at being a peacemaker

Pastor John Moyle wanted to visit Israel not as a tourist, but as a peacemaker.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Moyle, who is a social justice minister at Oakbrook Church in Reston, Va., wanted his church group to become peacemakers throughout Israel and Palestine.

Moyle took a MEJDI tour -a custom tour to visit rare cultural and religious communities- and said, "We visited the ancient sites but were also introduced to the Arab/Israeli conflict. We met many folks on the ground who are working to build peace. The tour was the start of something amazing for me."

Moyle continued to make three-week-long trips three times a year, every year for the past four-and-a-half-years. During his visits, he works as a peacemaker and searches for creative ways to bring Israel and Palestine together.

Abu Sarah started leading tours while attending Bible college and said, "I can't imagine touring Israel and Palestine and not doing it as Jesus would have: meeting people, sharing a meal and talking with them. There's a difference between seeing things and experiencing things."

David Schmidgall, Lincoln Campus pastor and missions director at National Community Church in Washington, D.C., helped organize three teams of evangelical Christians who do innovative peace work, clean churches and streets, work with children in refugee camps and other outreach-based ministries in Israel and Palestine.

"We were able to walk where Jesus walked 2,000 years ago, and walk where Jesus walks today - with the broken and oppressed in Israel and Palestine," Shmidgall admitted. "We met with Muslim and Jewish leaders, all in the context of being a Christ follower in places of conflict."

"The point is not to come back angry at one side or the other, but to come back with a heart for both peoples and understanding that all are made in God's image and that we are called to serve. Any church that enters that space is going to be transformed," Shmidgall added.

Moyle agreed with Shmidgall, saying, "We are bringing down the walls stone by stone. People are becoming pro-peace, becoming champions for all the peoples of the land."

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