One of the Five Marks of Mission widely adopted as an expression of contemporary Christian mission is "to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth". This reflects the very first instruction found in the Bible. In Genesis 2:15: "God tells Adam to care of the Garden of Eden". I am sure my passion for creation care, combined with my long-standing commitment to campaign for justice and peace for Palestinians motivated me to help with the Olive Planting Program last February. It was a practical way to get my hands dirty (literally) and show solidarity with Palestinian farmers living close to the illegal Jewish settlements.
One day we planted saplings on terraces high above the village of Khalayil Al-Louz near Bethlehem which is threatened by an illegal outpost of the Israeli settlement of Efrata. It was very windy and exposed but we managed to plant 200 saplings on the hillside. On several occasions we encountered Jewish settlers as well as soldiers and I am sure our presence as internationals provided encouragement as well as a protective presence to the Palestinian farmers and helped keep their hope alive. I hope to return next year.