I have a special connection to the name "Christina" because it is the ideal Orthodox character in my books for children that promote the symbolism and beauty of the Orthodox Christian faith. "Christina" is used to help children grow closer to God by helping them be knowledgeable about the faith. Thus, I was heart broken to hear that a beautiful young Orthodox Christian girl named Christina was killed instantly after being shot by the Israeli occupation army in Bethlehem on the very holy day of the Annunciation according to the Western calendar. This innocent ten year old child was a victim to Israel's cruel and unlawful assassination policies of political activists as her family was driving by the Shepherd's Hotel near the Cinema area. This is a tragic example of the "democracy" that Israel practices. The Israeli army also killed three men in the car in front of Christina's family. Christina, a good student at St Joseph's School in Bethlehem and who often prayed at the Nativity Church was in the car with her parents and older sister Marianne when the Israeli soldiers opened fire and shot her sister in the knee and father in the back and side. Christina was shot in the head and believed to have died on the spot thus was not taken to the hospital like her fifteen year old sister and parents. Christina's father, Mr. George Sa'ada is the principal of the Orthodox School in Beit Sahour. Rev. Sandra Olewine, the United Methodist Liaison in Jerusalem actually heard the gunfire around 7pm in Bethlehem. She states: "I was on the phone to a friend in the US, when gunfire erupted nearby. It was loud enough that my friend on the other end of the line could hear it. A few seconds later another loud round went off. Moments later I could hear the sound of an ambulance approaching. The local television station was soon showing a group of Palestinian medics trying to carry away someone who had been killed, a car with the entire back window blasted out and the trunk riddled with bullet holes, and a few Israeli soldiers in uniform keeping watch on everything. The scene was on the hill just four houses up the street from my own." Today (March 28), the Holy Land buries Christina with her father and sister not being able to attend the funeral services because they are still in the hospital. One can not help but wonder why the Israeli army opens fire in a residential neighbourhood? Why does the Israeli army continue to kill innocent civilians every day under the slogan "they are getting the terrorists?" When will the world realize that under these awful and horrible living conditions created by the occupation we are all turning into terrorists? May God give us the strength to follow our Christian values and principles and seek peaceful ways to live together as Christians, Muslims and Jews. We need to follow the words of Christ and not only forgive our enemies but love our enemies. Please help children in your church know about our tragic situation in the Land of Christ's Birth so that Christina's death will not be in vain. Let the children pray for peace in the Holy Land. Maria C. Khoury, author of Christina Goes to Church, is seeking 100 parishes this Lenten season to participate in the $1.00 Campaign where every member of the church is asked to donate just one dollar to help Christians in the Holy Land for the Taybeh Orthodox Housing Project to help families build their first home.
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