Mr. Rateb Rabie, KCHS, President of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, spoke with reporters for Radio MIR Medjugorje during his visit to Medjugorje.
Mr. Rateb is a Christian from Palestine, born in Jordan. His parents were forced to leave Jerusalem in 1948 and they had to immigrate to Jordan. He himself immigrated later to the United States where he got married and lived there for 35 years. Mr. Rabie is the citizen of the United States.
Regarding his life’s journey he said: "I was a businessman who was only consumed with the idea of gaining power and money. At that time, I received an invitation to return to the Holy Land and felt that I needed to do something for Christians and peace in that country.
Three years after I returned from that trip, I realised that I had to choose between continuing with my job and successful business career and pursuing the mission for the Christians in the Holy Land. I knew I could not do both of those tasks at the same time. I left everything I did and I completely devoted myself to this new ministry and I can say that I am happy now.
I have four daughters and at first my family questioned my decision because they could not understand why I decided to found this non-profit organisation. It took time, but finally the Foundation was formed that engaged the entire international community.
The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation was founded 14 years ago with the intention of maintaining Christians in the Holy Land. At present, it has offices in Washington DC and in Bethlehem, Palestine.
Millions of Christians from the Holy Land live in the Diaspora around the world, and the goal of this Foundation is to put them together with the small community of those Christians who live in the Holy Land.
The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) has about 500 core volunteers and thousands of other people who help in various ways. The politics is not of our interest.
Mr. Rabie stated: “Medjugorje has attracted messengers of peace and has many other links to the Holy Land. In particular, our ecumenical prayer movement ‘Maranatha’ will focus on numerous messages of Medjugorie that emphasize peace as a community-led mission. The second objective of organising the ecumenical prayer movement, ‘Maranatha” is to establish peace between Israelis and Arabs and between Muslims and Jews, since us as Christians need to be the bridge on which peace would be built”.
Mr. Rateb Rabie believes that Our Lady of Medjugorje is inviting us to seek for peace. He prayed to be able to come to Medjugorje, to this holy place, to meet with Our Lady, to listen to Her and to be close to Her.
Rabie said, “I have wanted to come here for a long time since so many people who are with me in our journey to peace and who volunteer had been here already once or twice. They just told me that I was to go back home and bring them blessings from Medjugorje. I feel blessed to be here and I am full of enthusiasm to return home and build a new path to peace in the Holy Land by bringing us closer to Our Lady of Medjugorje who teaches, advices, and guides us to bring peace to the Holy Land so that all people who love peace can come to the Holy Land, to Bethlehem, the city of peace, where the Prince of Peace was born.”
He continued and said:” We will pray together, the faithful-- Christians, Jews, Muslims, all together. We look forward to the presence of Monsignor Leonard, Archbishop of Belgium, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, and many other people joining us as we hold the first Prayer Meeting for Peace in Bethlehem”.
The hope is that there will be thousands of people in Bethlehem to say the prayer for peace in the world. Peace in the Holy Land is needed, because if there is peace in the land of our Lord, peace will reign everywhere!
The theme of the ecumenical prayer movement is: '' To bring peace to mankind we must first bring it to the Holy Land''.
Rabie then continued: "This is the first time HCEF has attempted to organise something like this and I do not know what difficulties we might encounter or what would happen, because I believe the evil one can work against us. We fervently pray that we will succeed in this and that we will be in the good hands of Our Lady of Medjugorje. This is the way to connect the Holy Land with Medjugorje. She has always called for peace in the Holy Land, and has arrived in Medjugorje with the reason, to this country that has been under communism regime for so long”.
Rabie also reflected: “My first knowledge of Medjugorje was 10 years ago. I heard that Our Lady was appearing here, but did not really care until I started to meet people who had been to Medjugorje and heard how they were talking about Medjugorje as of a place where they searched for a way to establish peace in the Holy Land. I knew then that the world needs Medjugorje to help us fulfill our mission”.
Mr. Rabie goes to the Holy Land four times a year, but he knew that something was missing. He needed to come to Medjugorje personally, to feel that, to be with people here and to experience their spiritual needs. He says that he knows now that in addition to our mission, we all must join HCEF on the mission which had begun - the ecumenical mission for peace.
Mr. Rabie believes that Our Lady of Medjugorje would be a leader in the future, as she speaks to the world and teaches us to peace and hope. He knows Our Lady of Medjugorje will be with those who will answer her invitation to pray for peace in the world. Our Lady of Medjugorje came here pursuing peace. Her apparitions are a sign of something great, something needed and it all connects with the Holy Land.
Mr. Rabie said, “I think a lot of people in the Holy Land are familiar with the events at Medjugorje, but not as much as they should be. I want to change that”.
Mr. Rateb thanked the faithful at the end with these words:" Thank you for the opportunity of being here with Our Lady. I feel so blessed now and I want to start working more on my own life. When I get back to the United States I will start to engage people in the prayer for peace of mankind”.
Accompanying his delegation was Sabrina Covic from Paris, who added that they met through common friends in 2007 and Rabie invited her to come to Washington.
Covic explained, “Many HCEF volunteers and the people involved have been to Medjugorje, and ask why HCEF does not have a closer tie to Medjugorje as Medjugorje has changed their lives. They became active in helping people in their Churches on behalf of HCEF after their personal experiences in Medjugorje. I think this is something priceless and wonderful as this is the beginning of a close relationship. HCEF is a natural catalyst for peace”
Rateb Rabie said that despite all of his obligations he would like to take a week and come back to Medjugorje with his family and friends.
According to the final statement of Sabrina Covic, “Rateb is a man of faith, a man who is active in spiritual matters, but always stresses his organization HCEF remains not political, theological or ecclesiastical. HCEF acts as a resource for His Beatitude Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem”
For detailed information about the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation see: www.hcef.org