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Home Events ‘Hope, Resilience, and Resistance: Life in the Holy Land’.

‘Hope, Resilience, and Resistance: Life in the Holy Land’.

19 Mar 2024

Whitley College invites you to an important event that discusses the life and suffering of Christians, Muslims, Jews and people of no faith in the Holy Land.

‘Hope, Resilience, and Resistance: Life in the Holy Land’.

Thursday, April 18, 6:30pm – 7:45pm
Collins Street Baptist Church

Hear impactful presentations from Mercy Aiken and Dr Rachel Coghlan, as they share their experience and knowledge, as people who are deeply connected via their dedicated work in the region and lived experience in Palestine. There will be time for questions and discussion at the end. This is a free event with a light supper provided.



About the Speakers:


Mercy Aiken

Mercy’s speaker tour is organised by the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network and funded by the National Council of Churches in Australia Glenburnie Program. For more information please see PIEN’s webpage –

Mercy began volunteering with Bethlehem Bible College in 2015 and lived there for over five years. She is passionate about sharing her experience through writing and advocacy. Mercy is currently employed as a Relationship Manager for the Network of Evangelicals for the Middle East (NEME). In this role, Mercy engages evangelical leaders, scholars, and pastors in learning more about the challenges that Christians and others face in the Holy Land and across the Middle East. Mercy holds a B.A. in English from Northern Arizona University and is currently working on a Master of Arts in Theology/Culture/Peacemaking from Saint Stephen’s University in New Brunswick, Canada. She is part of the International Advisory Council for Christ at the Checkpoint and is passionate about ecumenical work and relationship-building between Christians, Muslims and Jews. Mercy also organises and leads tours to the Holy Land twice yearly.

Mercy is also the co-author of the incredibly moving biography of Bishara Awad, a Palestinian Christian and founder of Bethlehem Bible College…

‘Yet in the Dark Streets Shining: A Palestinian Story of Hope and Resilience in Bethlehem.’

Mercy interviewed Bishara and many of his family members and other Palestinian Christians over several years for the writing of this book. The book powerfully weaves historical facts with a personal account of Bishara’s life and is a riveting read. Bishara has led a remarkable life, many times stepping out in faith to undertake the seemingly impossible and seeing the pathway miraculously unfold. The book brilliantly engages the reader on so many levels. You can read a book review by Rev Tim Costello that appeared in Eternity News here.

Dr Rachel Coghlan

Rachel is a public health leader with over 20 years of post-qualification experience gained in clinical physiotherapy practice, and in international health and humanitarian research, policy and advocacy. Rachel is a Fulbright Scholar and holds a Doctor of Philosophy from the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership, Deakin University. Her research explores the place of palliative care in humanitarian settings. She has contributed to palliative care research and education in Gaza and maintains special connections with Palestinian friends and colleagues.  

Rachel is a curious thinker and listener, always searching to learn from those most affected by illness and humanitarian crises. She regularly writes to spread compassion and humanity in living and dying and to help make sense of grief and suffering in our world.


Event Format:

6:30pm – 6:35pm: Acknowledgement of Country and Welcome

6:35pm – 7:10pm: Mercy Aiken Presentation – ‘Hope, Resilience, and Resistance: Life in the Holy Land’.

7:10pm – 7:30pm: Dr Rachel Coghlan – a brief response and then Insights into current perspectives on caring for people in the context of humanitarian crises.

7:30pm –7:45pm: Q&A and event formally closed

7:45pm: Light supper