Sunday, November 10, 2002

Sunday Clippings from my e-mail files, including this from a friend of mine on her impressions of Jerusalem, where she spent a semester in early 2001.
Previous Sunday Clippings

>First of all, about young people's misconceptions...actually, both young and old
people have misconceptions of the area. I will tell you some of mine before I
arrived in Israel. I did not have much understanding of the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict before I went there, but most of the news that I had heard was very
pro-Israel, so I didn't have a good impression of Palestinians. Yet, I learned
much of the conflict while I was there and my heart really went out to the
Palestinian people. Don't get me wrong, neither side is innocent in this
conflict- both sides do horrible things. But the thing with the Palestinian
people is that they have almost nothing while Israel is the #1 country in the
world that receives the most aid from the US, so they are much much more stable.
I went into the West Bank while I was there, to Bethlehem, a few days after
Israeli tanks had pulled out after occupying the city for 10 days. I was
appalled at the damage they had done to innocent Palestinian homes. Jerusalem
lies a mere 3 miles to the north of Bethlehem and we could here the shelling
during those ten just knew people were getting killed. But what can
you do?

At the same time, there are crazy young Palestinians who blow themselves up and
kill innocent Israeli citizens. We had a window of time during our semester
that not much happened in Jerusalem, but about 2 weeks before we left there was
a round of suicide bombs in Jerusalem and Haifa (which is on the coast). I was
at the same spot where the suicide bomber detonated himself a mere 24 hours
before it happened...praise God for his protection.
Yet, you have to ask, why do these people blow themselves up? Is it because of
their religion, or is it because it is the only way they have a voice- the only
way they can fight back since they have been stripped of everything. I believe
it is a combination of both.

Another misconception that I had was that all Palestinians were Muslim, yet this
is not true either. Although they are only a minority of the Palestinian
population, there are Palestinian Christians! I had several Palestinian
Christian friends and they are wonderful people. It saddens me to know that
they have to continue to daily live with this conflict. It is very difficult
for Palestinians to travel in Israel...they must go through check points to go
from the West Bank or Gaza Strip into Israel and this can sometimes take hours
when it usually takes 10-20 minutes to get from point A to point B. Yet these
precautions are sometimes necessary to keep terrorists out. The thing that is
so sad is that the majority of the Palestinian people must suffer for what the
minority does. This is another misconception that people have- that
Palestinians are all crazy suicide bombers that just want to kill all Israelis.
This is not true- the extremists are only a minority of the population.

Another misconception about the Middle East in general is that everyone is Arab
and everyone is Muslim. This is not true. I took a class called
"Christian Communities in the Middle East" and learned much about the
Eastern Church. I was so surprised because I had only ever learned about the
Western Church (protestants and catholics) and had never learned anything about
this whole other part of the body of Christ. The Christian communities of the
middle east are the Oriental Orthodox Church, the Byzantine Orthodox Church,
Catholics and Protestants. The Oriental Orthodox Church consists of Coptic
(these are Egyptian Christians), Armenian, Ethiopian, Chaldean and Syrian
Churches. It really angered me that I had never learned about these brothers
and sisters in Christ and that the west does not pay much attention to these
Christians in the other half of the world!

I think it is extremely important to keep these Christians in our prayers
because the eastern church is very persecuted. In general, Christians in the
Middle East are often persecuted because people associate Christianity with the
west- even if these eastern Christians have nothing to do with the west. Thus,
depending on western politics, they are persecuted. And you can imagine that
life is not easy for Christians right now in the middle east since the Sept. 11

So, there are a few things for you to chew on! The Israeli- Palestinian
conflict is a very complex one and I still have much to grasp about it. Right
now I am trying to understand what the Bible says about the Jewish people and
how God's plan for them fits into this whole thing because it is incredibly
important to the story. If there is one thing that I could tell people it is
that we MUST pray for the situation in the middle east and the people that have
to live with this horrible conflict- ESPECIALLY our brothers and sisters in
Christ there.

Psalm 122:6-9
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: 'May those who love you be secure. May
there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.' For the
sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, 'Peace be within you.' For the
sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity."

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