Christ­mas 2020

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29. November 2020

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

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