Saturday, June 21, 2008

"Shalom Y'all!"

Israel/Palestine is a bizzare place, full of contradictions, clashes and just weirdness. One of the best examples of this is in the t-shirt selection available in the Old City of Jerusalem. "Shalom y'all" says the face of Bush, with his classic little grin, pasted onto the turbaned and bearded head of Mr. Bin Laden himself. Amazing. And this beside the Harley Davidson shirt in Hebrew.

The last two days with Stewart and Justin have been full of such encounters with the bizarre. Yesterday we went to Hebron, a city in the south of the West Bank which is home to roughly 30,000 Palestinians and a small contingent of roughly 300 extremely zealous settlers (and their armed guard of roughly 300 Israeli soldiers) who have their settlement in the heart of the city. In part of the city you see Israeli settlers who have actually built their homes ontop of Palestinian homes and throw their trash down on them.

Our first experience was walking through a checkpoint into the Israeli part of the city (which only foreigners and Israelis can access) and being greeted by a very unfriendly Israeli soldier who asked us if we were Jewish and then went on to tell us that this was a Jewish only road that we were on (which wasn't true). A warm welcome indeed.

The last two days have been a rich time overall, full of laughter and great times of connections between the three of us. Stewart, Justin and I, beyond seeing some amazing sites and places (Bethlehem, my host family from last year, Hebron, the Mar Saba monastery, the Old City, a messianic congregation) have had some amazing talks about ministry in this part of the world, about the need for the church to see both the personal and social dimensions and implications of the Gospel, and about nonviolence and other ways of resisting evil without mirroring it. We have grown closer to each other as well as learned much from each other's perspectives and experiences. It has indeed been a blessing.

Tommorow the conference begins as does a whole new phase in our time here. There is much to look forward to.

Please pray for good connections with other leaders during the confernece as well as other people we would like to connect with while we are here. Please pray also for a filling and guiding of the Holy Spirit, both in our individual lives, as well as in the life of this confernce.

In his peace,


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