Against all odds: stories from the Holy Land at our annual services

'We are a witness, showing Jesus' love in the land he walked. We won't flee. This is our home and we'll stay forever.'

Embrace welcomed supporters to our annual services of thanksgiving and celebration held in Glasgow and London at the end of September.

We were thrilled to be joined at both events by Nader Abu Amsha and Ghada Ghabboun from East Jerusalem YMCA. We support the YMCA's work to give people with disabilities access to the equipment and support they need to live a full life and a second programme to rehabilitate young people who have been traumatised by detention.

Nader, the Director of the rehabilitation project, told us how thousands of children end up in Israeli jails each year for as little as throwing stones. On release, the YMCA helps them finish their formal education and, where possible in a place of high unemployment, find work. Nader also spoke about the difference the Olive Tree Project is making to Palestinian families who have been dispossesed of their land and see their ancient trees ripped from the ground.

Ghada told us that she is honoured to be a Muslim woman working with East Jerusalem YMCA as she shares the same values as Embrace and our supporters. Both Nader and Ghada spoke of the increasing difficulties in providing consistent support in increasingly difficult circumstances. Their focus remains on reconciliation as they work to break the cycle of violence by creating safe spaces for people to meet and learn about each other.

You can hear more of their encouraging and heartbreaking stories of resilience here.

Our CEO Jeremy Moodey gave an update on our work which is only made possible by our supporters. You can listen to his talk here.

We also heard from Lydia Nash, Programmes and Partnerships Manager for Egypt, Lebanon & Syria and Jamie Eyre, Director of Programmes and Partnerships who have recently returned from Egypt and Lebanon. Lydia spoke about visiting one of our Lebanese partners, Beit-el-Nour which is now helping Syrian refugee girls and a pre-natal healthcare project in Alexandria, Egypt. You can hear Lydia and Jamie's stories here.

After a scrumptious Middle Eastern lunch, we gathered together for the formal service.

In Glasgow, Church of Scotland Moderator Very Rev John Chalmer's gave the sermon which you can read here.

In London we were joined by Rev Colin Colin Chapman who worked with CMS in the Middle East for 18 years and in his last post he was teaching Islamic Studies at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut. You can hear his sermon here or read it here.

We hope you will join us at our Annual services next year.