Opportunities for Encounter: Christian pilgrimage and beyond

6pm UK time Wednesday 12th October 2022


Thousands of Christians visit the Holy Land each year with a deep desire to “walk where Jesus walked”. But what impact do these pilgrimages have on the people who inhabit the land and on those making the trip?

Hosted by the Balfour Project, this online event raised awareness and deepen connections between UK and Palestinian Christian populations through pilgrimage and beyond. We explored how to choose a pilgrimage with a positive impact, and how we can engage with Palestinian Christians from home, whether we go on pilgrimage or not.

This webinar was supported by Friends of the Holy Land, and will include local perspectives from Christians in Palestine.

Brendan Metcalfe

Brendan Metcalfe is Executive Director of Friends of the Holy Land, with overall responsibility to the Trustees for the running of the Charity. Friends of the Holy Land works ecumenically and a-politically with churches in the UK and the Holy Land, focusing on encouraging Christians to remain in the land of their birth by supporting them to build resilient and self-sufficient communities, in what can often be a challenging environment. Friends of the Holy Land fund a mixture of sustainable and immediate relief work in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and Jordan.

Laila Asfoura 

Laila Asfoura is a Palestinian Christian who lives and grew up in Bethlehem. She is the Executive Director of Laila Tours & Travel, and believes that tourism can be a powerful tool of education that can make a positive impact on the international Palestinian image. She has 17 years of experience in Tourism and Travel, as well as a Masters degree in Tourism studies from Bethlehem University. 

Laila is active in the local community as the founder of AHDAF, a Bethlehem-based charity whose work includes St Martha’s House (which Laila is the Executive Director of), the first day-care centre for elderly women in the Bethlehem area. She is also a committee member of the Bethlehem Care and Hospice Trust, and a committee member of Friends of the Holy Land. 

Michael Jackaman and Georgette Loussi

Both Michael Jackaman and Georgette Loussi are Palestinian Christians born and raised in Bethlehem. Michael has worked as a Holy Land tour guide and travel expert since 2009, having studied the subject at Dar Al Kalima University, Bethlehem. He is certified by the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism. He also creates stained glass ornaments as part of his family work. 

Georgette has completed her studies as a Holy Land tour guide at Bethlehem Bible College, and will be taking her ministry of tourism exams to achieve her licence. She currently works as an Italian teacher in Terra Santa school, Jerusalem, having studied Science and Technology of Agriculture Food in Italy.

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