La Colombe Church group from Belgium recite the Planter's Prayer before planting trees in Lavi Forest.
(photo credit: DENNIS ZINN KKL-JNF)
Wednesday February 14: The muddy earth, after three days of rain in the southern Galilee, posed no obstacle for the 80 Evangelical Christians from Belgium who came to plant trees in the land of Israel with their own hands.
The group arrived at the KKL-JNF Tree Planting Center near Kibbutz Lavi, accompanied by their leader Pasteur Paulin Palete Gimbengi of the Protestant Baptist Church La Colombe “The Dove” in Brussels; Chief Rabbi of Brussels, Rabbi Albert Guigui; President of KKL Belgium, Jacky Benzenou; and KKL-JNF Emissary to Belgium, and head of the Brussels office, Dani Benloulou.
On-site to meet the Belgian congregation were KKL-JNF foresters who explained that each visitor was going to plant a one-year-old sapling, either an oak or a cypress, which, if nurtured properly, would be part of a huge new forest in about twenty years’ time. They promised to do their part to make sure that all the saplings will survive and thrive. The 80 excited visitors recited the Planter’s Prayer in unison, which concluded with a resounding ‘amen’.
Each visitor was handed a sapling and a garden spade. The planters eagerly set out through the muddy ground to find a pre-dug hole for planting.
Rabbi Albert Guigui quickly and skillfully planted his tree, and then took time to help those who were having difficulty. He explained that he has a close relationship with the members of the congregation and that was why he came along with them on this trip to Israel.
“They have a great love for Israel and the Jewish people, and often invite me to their Church to speak about these subjects.”
While planting her tree, Vanessa, one of the younger participants, said: “This is really special for me because I love Israel and by doing this I feel that I am helping the country to grow strong.” Sandrin, her companion, said: “By planting trees we are blessing Israel.”
Some completed their tree planting by standing up and reciting a silent prayer.
Read more about the Belgian Christian delegation’s sojourn in the Galilee and see photos