Palestinians are People: A Missionary’s Observations

 

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Photo: Tarek

As of today, 197 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,500 have been injured in Israel’s constant bombing of Gaza over the last 10 days. Though Palestinians have fired lots of rockets and mortars at Israel in this same time frame, reportedly only one Israeli has been killed. This outburst of violence is the worst in five years. This is a guest post written by an American friend of mine that is a missionary to the West Bank. I asked her to give advice to all of us for whom this conflict is just a bunch of numbers: 197. 1,500. I hope this reminds us that each of those numbers is a person made in the image of God.

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St. Patrick Was Not A Heretic, But His Analogies Are Another Story

This is a great and cheeky little introduction to the doctrine of the Trinity at the expense of our friend, St. Patrick. (As far as I know, the only of these analogies that St. Patrick ever used was that of the clover…and even that is historically questionable.) The doctrine of the Trinity is difficult. I often tell my students that every attempt to make an analogy to the Trinity will result in heresy. St. Patrick was no better.

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Coming Home

Do you have a place that just feels like home, but it has never really been “home”?

I make a daily hour long commute each way to work.  The last few weeks I have taken that opportunity to listen to sermons from Rob Bell. Rob Bell has made some people mad at times.  But for me, he is able to name that part of me that longs for church the way I imagine it could be.  I deeply long for a church community that can come around a vision of the Kingdom of God that actually makes a difference in the way they live.

Last week I came to tears as I heard of young girl who was quite sick and one day asked her mother, “Who holds the orphans in Africa when they get sick?”  Her mother answered that likely no one did.  The young girl couldn’t stand for that, so she had the idea to get teddy bears for the children in African orphanages so they could at least get a hug from their teddy.  That is all sweet, but I’m just not sentimental enough to cry at this point. 

But when she got done telling her story and Rob got back up to speak, I just lost it.  He announced that a member of their congregation in an earlier church service that day had decided to pay the way for this young girl and her mom to deliver the teddy bears to an orphanage themselves. 

Wow. 

Two observations as both a pastor and a Christian.  The only thing that made this possible was a church community that mentors people in two meaningful ways.  Little girls don’t ask about children in Africa being held unless you talk about African children with them…a lot.  Second, people don’t normally give up large sums of money on a whim during a church service unless they have heard of other people making similar choices or have made similar (but likely smaller) choices themselves.  Their church holds up the needs of Africa in an ongoing way.  So ongoing that five-year-olds catch the vision, too. And they tell stories whenever someone gives of themselves for another. 

Something in me just makes me think that this is home.  I’ve only been to their church 3 or 4 times. Its not really home.  But it feels that way because these people are tapping into something that we were all design to do.  We were designed to give ourselves for others.  When we do this we participate in the God way of life…the Kingdom of God.  We begin to participate in the image of God to which we were created. When we see this kind of life it strikes a chord deep in our souls.  Simply put, its like coming home. 

When do you have times when it feels like you have come home, even if you have never been there before?