Shepherding sheep and social justice

Jessica Frederick ′07
Christian Ministries and Social Work major
Hometown: Jamestown, New York

While accompanying shepherds as their sheep graze in the rocky hills of At-Tuwani in the disputed West Bank, Jessica Frederick ’07 dons a symbolic bright red “CPT” hat as a message to Israelis that she is a nonviolent activist.

It also serves to remind wrongdoers who hide in the hills and shoot feeding Palestinian sheep—a shepherd’s primary source of livelihood—that a Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT) is present, documenting unlawful activity; and working hand-and-plow with Palestinian villagers to protect their economic sustainability and safety in a peaceful vein.

Jessica’s devotion to nonviolent peacemaking and self-sacrifice stems from Messiah College Christian ministries and social work professors who expanded her view of ministry. “When I first came to Messiah I planned to be a youth pastor, maybe at a small church,” said Jessica. “And that was great. But Messiah truly affirmed for me what it means to be a follower of Jesus—working on behalf of the oppressed. Which is why I now live and work in Palestine.”

As a crisis intervention team, CPT responds daily to conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, helping the divergent groups to negotiate agreements over land disputes, safely escort children to school, and organize non-violent activities to bring awareness to the right of all people to live in peace.

Recently, in response to the Israeli government’s decision to acquire half of a Palestinian farmer’s land, CPTers organized a peaceful march organized by the Holy Land Trust—a Palestinian organization promoting nonviolent resistance. The group walked across a makeshift boundary, and together harvested the farmer’s grape leaves. The act allowed the farmer to feed his family and provided income.

“We can’t allow the world to believe that all Palestinians are terrorists,” argues Jessica. “Rather, many are committed to nonviolence. It’s like saying all Christians are exactly alike. We believe there is a peaceful solution to this conflict and until then will do whatever we can to reduce violence in the region.”

To learn more about Christian Peacemakers Teams, visit:

Posted in 2007, About Reconciliation, Alumni, Christian Ministries, Majors & Minors, Social Work | Comments Off

Posted on September 1st, 2008

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