Dear friends and supporters of Lifegate,
an extraordinary and eventful year 2020 is entering its final phase and our life in this world has been shaken up by a small virus. The news that an effective vaccine will soon be available gives hope to many people, but nevertheless we must always expect further unpleasant diseases and the resulting damage must be dealt with first. We wish all the sick and especially the seriously ill a good medical care and quick recovery, and we all wish them preservation and protection for the future.
Since March of this year we have not been able to welcome any visitors at Lifegate, neither at the Lifegate Garden Guest House nor at the Lifegate Center. Our otherwise well utilized laundry, which washes, irons and delivers laundry for hotels and guest houses in Bethlehem, had a very quiet summer with few private orders. The Lifegate kitchen, which often provided travel groups and visitors with a tasty lunch, this year specialized in local orders and catering in addition to supplying our children and staff. We are pleased that the annual order of Lifegate gift products reached Germany in October and even if many Christmas markets and activities should be cancelled this year, our goods can be ordered by e‑mail and by phone. In January our tasty olive oil and for the first time also our thyme spice mixture (Zatar) will be available.
Our work in the kindergarten, the school and the training workshop was only interrupted for a few weeks in March/April (general closure in the Palestinian territories), then we were able to continue our work in agreement with the health authorities, first with smaller groups, but soon with our normal class sizes.
We also worked normally during the summer holidays of the regular schools, as our staff made their annual vacation available for the children who had already lost 5 weeks in March/April.
Many parents were very grateful that we were able to resume our support work very quickly, thus providing the children and also the families with a good and reliable routine in these troubled times.
The opening of our work for severely and multiply handicapped children in a special remedial class and another new class in the kindergarten expanded our offer after we had been asked to do so again and again by parents. The first wonderful successes have already been achieved and there are already waiting lists of children who would also like to be accepted.
Our team of employees is very grateful that we were able to guarantee continued employment in most cases, although the small salary increase granted after years had to be revoked immediately at the beginning of the year when we saw that our local income would not be possible this year. Only a few temporary contracts could not be renewed, other employees agreed to continue working with a part-time contract and lower remuneration.
Thus we were able to support and accompany our children, the young people and our team through this eventful year with united forces, but above all with the help of our donors and supporters.
We take many questions and also some criticism of our politicians and governments from this year to the time of our Christmas, the time where we remember that God became a human being like us and exposed himself to this life on our earth with all the suffering and all the diseases. But this time is not godless either – we know and experience again and again that we do not go alone through a world that has gone off the rails. Christians have an address where they can take fears, disappointments and despair, but also the requests for vigilance, wisdom and protection from false reports, tendencies and guidelines have their place in our daily prayers.
If this year the classic Christmas sales hype, the shining Christmas markets, the planned skiing holiday and perhaps even the Christmas service fall victim to the Corona regulations, this could be a chance to reflect on the real center of this birthday, either alone or with the immediate family. Perhaps you will have the chance to open the Bible, light a candle and read the climax of God’s „love story” with us human beings in Luke the Evangelist.
In a stable in Bethlehem, a Jewish child is born in a poor environment. It is shepherds from the fields and angels who accompany this birth, praising and glorifying God. Later, wise men from far away come to pay their respects to the new-born child and bring gifts. Soon the young family has to flee to Egypt, as newborns are sought after for life. But this child does not die, only as a young man much later does he lay down his life, dies on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. His earthly and eternal life is marked by his love for us human beings, his request and waiting for our invitation to come into our lives and fill them with his love, his hope and his reconciling deeds. Just as many did not love him then and now, but despised, hated and rejected him, neither are we welcomed everywhere with open arms. Christians are sometimes very uncomfortable, their truths and their standards are outdated and no longer valid in the eyes of many people.
Christians are not aligned. If Christ dwells in us, we are His mouth, His hands and His feet in our world, no matter what happens around us right now.
The birthday that we celebrate at Christmas, must take place within us, we must experience a new birth, the birth of the power of renewal of our senses and our whole life.
Love for people (even for those who are very different from ourselves), hope in every hopeless situation, prayer for healing at the bedside or loving care for someone in need are some of the many gifts that come with this renewal.
Also the sharpening of our minds, the ability to distinguish good from evil and the learning of patience not to have to force changes but to wait and trust for the right time (because God knows about it) are part of the „Christmas Top Renewal Offer” 2020!
No religious high performance is required to earn the favor of heaven, heaven comes to us and wants to take a new shape and spread in us and our lives.
This in mind, I wish you a fulfilling Christmas and the heavenly joy that has warmed and renewed our hearts from then until now.
Thank you for all your company and support this year, your prayers and your love for our work! Please stay by our side!
From our hearts, we wish you God’s protection and blessing and the fullness of His power and grace.
Your Burghard Schunkert and the Lifegate team