Transcript from Interview 15 January 2013
Minor grammatical adjustments made for better understanding.
I wanted to ask you just a couple of questions. First of all, you’re catholic, right? Every child follows their parents until a certain age and then they start to question things for themselves usually. Was there ever a time when you started questioning for yourself if Jesus Christ was the Messiah or if God... if Christianity was really the right path or if God existed? Did you ever question that as a child?
What was it like?
We actually have groups here. We start this at the age of 12 or 13. So we have small groups here to meet with the priest and we get the answers sometimes from these groups. We have a university group, a group for small kids, a group even for the employers, so sometimes they learn something from this. And also every week we have the church where we learn something from the book. The priests read and tell people about everything. And this answers their questions. And even sometimes we have books that people share… every family shares this and they learn from these books.
So then for you personally, as you were going through these youth programs or learning from the priest and reading the books, when did you gain your testimony or you knowledge that Jesus Christ was the Messiah? Did you always know that?
Yeah, sure from the school here. We have also religious subjects to go with other subjects. Like we have science, we have Arabic language, we have English language, we have other topics, other subjects. So we have also religion, religion class. So we have chapter from the Bible, from the teachings of the church.
Right and now you work here at the church. You described to me that you worked in the auto industry before this, Right?
What are your responsibilities now as a member of the church community? What is that you do?
Actually I am responsible for this gallery. I am the curator actually for the place here and tell people about the history for those who don’t know the history of the place. And we really surprise people sometimes, people from Europe and other parts of the world. They didn’t know that there are Christians here in this place. So they thought that we were Muslims before and we turned over our faith. But we have Christian ancestors and we all together with the Muslims, we lived in peace a long time ago and still today. And here for the church I show people around, the place downstairs and sometimes the church, the history, about those who saved the place here. We had priest here from Europe, from Middle East countries even the Nuns here of the Rosary Congregation established here in Palestine in the 1880’s. So we’ve had the nuns here at the church since 1896, brought by priest from Palestine as well and we had the first set school for girls here in Jordan, here in Madaba.
Wow. Now how does it make you feel to know that you are helping other people understand that there are Christians here in the Middle East because you mentioned that Europeans who come and they are very surprised that there are Christians. How does it make you feel that you are letting the world know that there are Christians?
Much of the whole world or say… far countries away form here, they think that Christians and Muslims that they just fight together like what we see in other places. Afghanistan, other places, Iraq maybe. This leads people to think that this is what happens here, but we both Christians and Muslims we live together in peace here. But what’s happening we have fundamentals every where. Even Christian fundamentalist, Muslims and also Jewish. So what’s happening is that these small group sometime give that thought or impact. So I am here to tell the people about history, our history.
Does it make you feel good or make you feel happy that you are helping people learn about Christianity here?
And this is very rich land with a lot of history as you know, you tell the history all the time. This is where Christianity started. Jesus Christ walked these lands. People come from all over the world to come right here, visit right here and yet, you were born here, your family is from here. How does it make you feel to have the privilege or the blessing to live here? Do you feel blessed? Do you feel the connection to the land? Do you feel a tighter bond or a better relationship with Jesus Christ because you are growing up here?
Can you describe that a little bit?
So this is the place, as you mentioned, of Jesus and all the old prophets. From the place here, from Palestine, from Jordon, from even the Arabian peninsula later on with Islam. And it’s even where the first Christian started from the place here as mentioned in letters from Paul, who mentioned about those who became Christians or the faith of Christianity started from this place. Also Saint John the Baptist started his letter from the Bethany side, very close by here, not that far, 30 kms. And it is said that Jesus came to the place very close here. So when we visited the Bethany sight, the baptism sight, for the first time, when people visit the place… it brought us back to the first time Jesus visit this place and we felt that in our heart, a feeling. We went there and we saw. We lived that moment. Nothing there just, you know, virgin lands and we think maybe wars kept this for long time with no people… and now it’s still a virgin land but we have now churches there. They started to build churches. Sometimes we have rain, but from the heat they have to do churches like this.
So you said that when you were there in Bethany that you felt something in your heart, you felt a connection with the place. What was that? Why did you feel that feeling?
Maybe what we learned from the holy book… we felt that experience, we went to that place, so its again built… uh… I don’t know what you call it… When you read something you… say some equation for mathematics and from physics and everything and when you go to the lab and practice this, you can see that it fulfills your work. This is exactly what happens for us. So with the new testament, old testamenteverything here and when you visit the place… even I advice everybody to visit the place from the whole world to see the place here and to experience this really it’s the land of religion.
And you say that you do feel connected to the land and why is that? Is it because just the history or it’s because you feel something in particular?
Another question. First of all, for you what is a miracle? How will you define a miracle?
The miracle: that people still have the thought that, like ourselves here we are Christian. We still have that thought of Christianity. We still have it… 2000 years and many things have taken place. We had enemies from time to time. Even before Christianity who came to place to destroy here to maybe…their way to destroy other places. So this is land where many civilization met here and enemies came to the place and we still have that faith… the thought of the books, we still have it. Imagine 3000 years we heard about sometime scientist, sometime about theology, sometimes about these things but many of these… what you call it? No signs of that… don’t believe in that and still have faith and even it’s a modern world. In our days we have computer, we have information system. It’s very things… man reached space, man reach mars, man reach the moon and we still have that…and people still believe in the religion. That is a miracle.
Right. So then in the scriptures it says God is the god of miracle. Have you ever experienced that? Have you seen any miracles or had seen God’s hand in your life?
Miracle as miracle itself, I didn’t see miracle yet but the miracle that we survive I think.
And how has God blessed you in your life?
This is hard question. I don’t know how I say this.
Do you feel like you have been blessed.
Yes, sure. Don’t know how to say it.
It’s alright. It’s okay. It’s okay. You say you feel like you have been blessed in your life. Do you have family? Are you married? Do you have kids?
Yeah sure but I am thinking about when you have good work and then you lose it. So I didn’t know how it say this. Sometimes this is bad luck or thought luck. Uh… Sometimes say… you have sick people and they get cancer and it happened that you pray for them, you brought priest to the place where your patient is and they pray for him and after that he is well, like what’s happened to my brother? And he get cancer and we brought priest to pray for him and still in good condition. I mean, he is still alive, not in great condition, but he’s still alive.
You don’t consider that as a miracle or do you?
Sure, I consider it as a miracle.
So you have seen miracles in your life? I would agree with you. I would call that miracle. I believe that miracle is God intervening in our lives. It’s him stepping into our lives and helping us. And I can think we can see miracles all the time around us, big miracles and small miracles and sometime we don’t see them but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. That’s just my personal belief. So how many kids do you have?
I am not married.
That’s fine, do you have lots of brothers and sisters, big family?
I have 5 and myself… we are five and three girls… so eight total.
Wonderful. It’s big family.
You know till the early 80’s people, even Christians, had big families but not now. For Christians maybe because of education. Most of the Christian families they send their kids to the private school which belong to the church and, you know, the tuition fees are expensive and you afford better life for these kids you know. Latter on you send them to universities and universities in Europe. So this cost a lot and many people also in the state… this cost a lot. That’s why nowadays we have small families with two kids, maybe three kids at the most.
And do you attend the church here?
Once a week?
Once a week.
Why or say… how do you feel when you go to church here? Why do you go to church?
Because I brought up by my family… you know.
So its tradition?
Yeah, it’s formal tradition. I think this is the best way to do things… to start in the beginning with your kids. You go altogether to church or even for the Muslims to go to the mosque and in the future this is really good for the kids to… maybe they get that tradition to go to the church and they have something at least, and then latter on in the future they can enrich this tradition with thought.
How do you feel about the Muslim - Christian relationship? Do muslims and Christian get along really well here?
Do you have a lot of muslim friends?
Yeah, sure sometime when we are together, we don’t think about religion. We’ve lived together since the past and we have the same tradition and even we lived for many decades with the same tradition. Until now-in-days people everywhere… even in china, in South America, everywhere, they follow what’s brought from the Western World so…
Right. Awesome. Well I appreciate your time. That’s all the question I have for you.
Alright, thank you. I am sorry if its not… my answers are too… but sometimes maybe…
No, no, its wonderful, thank you. I would love to get you name and your email address and I will give you my information.