Our story - Lindy Witman

Suitcase Ministry packs supplies to bring relief to the Holy Land

Lindy Witman, group tour planner for over 25 years at Raptim in the U.S., was involved in the founding of the program, Suitcase Ministry. The program focuses on alleviating the needs of so many vulnerable people living in the Palestinian Territories.

Suitcase Ministry encourages religious travelers to bring much-needed items with them when going on pilgrimages. Since the start of the program, around 20 years ago, supplies have been taken to a variety of Christian, Jewish and Muslim organizations.

“People have the same joys, sorrows, wants and needs, no matter where you go. This is an invaluable life lesson.”

Lindy Witman, Raptim group tour planner

“For me, this is truly the icing on the cake,” Lindy said when asked what it means to her to be one of the driving forces behind the program. “To be a part of planning any faith-based tour, enabling travelers to experience personal spiritual growth, makes every day at work so special. To take it a step further and offer pilgrims a chance to meet people from other countries, and support them, is a blessing that words cannot describe.”

A program brochure that dates back to the start of the program explains. “With the thousands of tourists who visit the Holy Land each year, it seemed as if something could be done to utilize not only a little suitcase room on the part of each pilgrim, but also to harness the spirit of goodwill and mission that most people bring with them.”

How does it work? Raptim’s Jerusalem-based tour hosts choose organizations in the Holy Land that they know need support, then each tour member is encouraged to fill an extra suitcase with supplies. Friends and church members all chip in to fill the bag, and cover the cost of checking an extra piece of luggage. The original program brochure lists examples of typical items that were needed.

“There is only one calculator that is shared by the entire secondary student body of Hope School. Brother Albert at Four Homes of Mercy needs multivitamins, which are very expensive to buy, for the mentally and physically handicapped children he cares for. The pre-school four- and five-year-olds need warm clothes in Abu Dis, where the unemployment is 60-70%, because the closure of the Occupied Territory has prevented people from going to their jobs for months. The need for both adult and children’s clothes repeats itself in Deheisheh and Shofat Refugee Camps.”

“I believe that people-to-people contacts are always rewarding and enhance any travel experience,” Lindy said when asked about the added value of the program. “To come home from international travel realizing that cultures and customs may differ, but people have the same joys, sorrows, wants and needs, no matter where you go, is an invaluable life lesson. That’s why this initiative has been a blessing to both our travelers and the people on the receiving end.”