Before I left for this trip it was my understanding that Israel had reclaimed their rightful ownership of the Holy Land from a terrorist group named Hamas. After all, I grew up hearing about the Six Day War and seeing the carnage left behind by bombings along Gaza Strip. And didn't God give this land to his people? So isn't it their's anyway? Over the past four weeks, I have learned many things to challenge this viewpoint. I want to tell you all we have seen and learned about this "conflict" so you can make your own decision about what is happening here.
This "conflict" started way before most of us were even aware of it, and that is part of what makes this so dangerous, because many of us have formed our opinions on more recent events, say over the past sixty-six years or less. Back as far as the 1880 - 1890's there was a movement that began, mainly in the UK, but has slowly seeped into most of our own beliefs about this land as well as the Israeli/Jewish - Palestinian conflict. The movement is called Zionism. Zionism's ideology goes something like this, the Jewish people were given this land as a covenant by God to Abraham. They were to multiply and flourish but also to obey The Lord their God (see Deuteronomy 7:1-6). But read the entire book of Deuteronomy and then the New Testament (see Acts 10:34-36). The Deuteronomy passage also states, "Then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy." But God placed a condition on this covenant. That they were to worship only the one true God who was the one who delivered the nations into the hands of Israel. And they were to live in such a way that the nations around them would come to know their God.
Well, reading the rest of the Bible, especially the New Testament, seems to make it clear that since Israel did not follow God's commands, he sent his Redeemer Son for all people. But the Zionists have planned since the late 19th century to bring all Jews back to their homeland. That plan is in full force today. We have seen how Israel has attempted to destroy the entire Palestinian population. They won the war in for Israeli independence in 1967, but refuse to abide by the agreement made at the end of the war that partitioned the land into Jewish and Palestinian land. However, Israel has NEVER followed any of the agreements outlined in other peace documents and continue to confiscate Palestinian land, homes, resources such as water electricity, access to schools or health care. They demolish Palestinian homes without reason and with impunity wiping entire villages off the map. Palestinian people have been on their land for centuries but still are forcibly displaced to refugee camps or other countries or, sometimes to live in their own fields, outside in tents. The Israeli army also has blocked roads so Palestinians cannot get to their fields to farm or graze their herds or travel to work. There are roads that only Palestinians can use but only if they have a permit to travel from one town to the next. Without a permit, they are virtually captives in their own homes or towns. There is so much more to say but I want all of us on this team to be able to show you the pictures and tell the stories of the people we have met and the other ways Israel is continuing to operate under total military control, not as the only democratic state in the Middle East as we continue to hear from the Israeli's.
You may criticize me for being one sided, but please believe me that we have seen and talked with Jewish people, read about the history of this war and have tried to be as open minded and balanced as possible. Honestly, it is quite simply impossible to not see the injustices and human rights violations that Israel continues to perpetuate against the Palestinian people. Yet the Palestinian people have opened their hearts, their homes, their families and shared their food with us. Many extremely poor people have treated us to feasts and allowed us the privilege of dining in their homes. They have shared their stories of having teenaged boys being blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken to prison for throwing stones, often with no proof that they even were throwing stones. The Israeli government can detain, in prison, someone for no reason. Young boys may stay in prison for up two, three or four months without their family knowing where they are or what happened to them. Some boys throw rocks at the soldiers out of anger, frustration, you name it, and are met with either some sort of rubber bullet or live ammunition. Since the recent escalation in violence over the past month, more than 200 Palestinian people have been killed, many women, children and even several casualties at a home for mentally disabled children. While only one Israeli citizen has died. He was killed yesterday by a rocket that hit a border crossing.
I am not here to argue that the numbers say anything more than what is obvious. Any loss of life is not acceptable and indescribably tragic and painful. But let us not lose hope in the God who makes all things possible. So let us all pray. Pray for God to forgive the wrongs of all the people in this land. Pray for the leaders of the Israeli and Palestinian governments that they may put aside any agenda's, hatred, or whatever that may block their ability to cease firing at each other and truly come together to understand the other person. For, I believe, that it is only when we see the other side as image bearers of God, just as we are, as individuals, that they may be able to feel the love of Christ in us and each other. As we feel his unselfish, forgiving love, may we also forgive and treat others better than we treat ourselves. For in Christ's Kingdom the first shall be last and the last shall be first, the meek shall inherit the land.
Much more to share but time and my fingers are limiting what I can type. We miss you all, family and dear friends. Know that your prayers have kept us safe and are continuing to give us the peace and discernment we need.
With all our hearts, gratitude and love,