Focusing on advocacy and activism, Janet's responsibilities are numerous. She is the main contact for VIM teams and United Methodist visitors who wish to follow the recommendation of the General Conference to spend a significant amount of time in the area with local Christians, acting to make those connections with UMC partner organizations and Advance Projects.
Janet circulates updates about developments in the ongoing crisis and suggests courses of action people can take to address it. She educates visitors about the realities of the situation, organizes conferences, develops media campaigns, offers worship opportunities, hosts delegations to the area and oversees other special events.
“After taking a typical Holy Land tour and seeing the devastating consequences of the ongoing illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, I experienced not only a ‘call’, but rather an undeniable ‘push’ to go back to that not-so-holy land and do whatever I could to help bring about ‘freedom for the oppressed,’” Janet shares about her call to mission. She sold her house in the U.S. and volunteered for several years, first in the Galilee, then Bethlehem where she “lived with my neighbors under the heavy hand of injustice and military occupation.”
“Christ calls us all to be ministers of justice,” she explains. “Through my work with the Palestinian Christian community, I will be able to answer this call by working for a just and lasting peace for Palestinians and Israelis, so that reconciliation and healing can occur.”
A native of Cleveland, OH, Janet earned an associate degree in civil engineering and architectural design from Lakeland College in Mentor, OH. She studied theater arts at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. Prior to this assignment, Janet worked for ten years with Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem and for two years as executive director of Friends of Sabeel–North America. She served from 1994-1997 as Personal Assistant to Archbishop Elias Chacour, president of Mar Elias Educational Institutions in the Galilee.
Prior to moving to Israel-Palestine, Janet worked as project coordinator and trouble-shooter managing civil engineering and project design at Olds Cast Stone Products in Thompson, OH.
Janet has three adult children, Adam Scott Lahr Lewis, Evan Phillip Lewis, and Tegan Wynn Lewis.
A member of Chardon United Methodist Church in Chardon, OH, Janet has held numerous church offices, including council on ministries chair, youth leader, choir member, mission committee chair, and administrative board member.
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