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7/19/2006

LETTER FROM THE FRONT LINES

Joel Vestal is the founder of ServLife and a close friend of Brian's. Joel plants indigenous churches, works to end poverty, and a lot more in places where it's not at all safe to be a Christian...or even a person for that matter. Visit ServLife later to find out more about what he and his team do around the world, but for now here's his latest letter (highly edited for length here) sent out to friends this week. Worth pondering and acting on.

SUBJECT: Start a Movement of PEACE

I have been asking myself in recent days from following so many complicated global issues, is it possible for the church of Jesus (that is you and me) to rise above partisan politics and economic/ethnic divide and be an instrument of peace in an ever increasing hostile world? I believe it is. ...We as the church should involve ourselves in the public square; however, we as image bearers of the most high God have more power within us than any military or commander in chief in the world to rattle the halls of hell and move the heart of God to awaken his people to action (Rom 8:11). Indeed, there is great power waiting to be unleashed among us to see peace in the world come through the church of Jesus Christ, that is you and me.

As Israel’s offensive continues and the Hezbollah fights back, we are all [faced] with the ambiguity of Middle East policies, promises, and protocol. It is not [as] easy [an] issue as some want to make it out to be. [The situation] is very multifaceted in the Middle East and globally there are ethnic, economic, cultural, religious complexities as well that leads easily to scratching one’s head in bewilderment. I know I have been scratching in recent days...

...I do believe strongly that any war should be the last resort. I should say again, any act of war should be last resort and not the first response. The inevitable loss of innocent life saddens me profoundly. I wish to give four basic reminders on how we as the body of Christ, no matter where you are located or the kind of expression you embrace, can respond in the light of current political turmoil the world is currently in and see Shalom (peace) realized and expressed.

Reminder #1: Gather others to pray. We must pray because we are not equipped to see peace on merely our own strength and ability. We need divine power and divine intervention. We need God. We need Him to reveal his love to the hearts of all people on the earth. We need God to touch his people and through His leadership to move out into relationships and regions to be the presence of Jesus. Need some help on what to pray for? Here are some requests for prayer from Christian friend in Lebanon:

Please pray for God’s intervention in our country and the Middle east to stop any further bloodshed and destruction

Pray for the local churches to come alongside the needy in practical support

Pray for our leaders – for wisdom

Pray for us as Lebanese Christians- that we may be salt and light

Here are some requests from a Palestinian Christian who I just talked with one week ago while I was in a Palestinian region:

Pray for our Christian Palestinian brothers and sisters to give our food and clothes to our Muslim neighbors who are suffering

Pray for patience and endurance to follow Christ and love all people

Pray for people to come to know Jesus Christ, the prince of peace

Reminder #2 - Give resources to peace makers – I am not suggesting this to merely raise money for our own mission. There are thousands of organizations that are filled with peace makers with the gospel. They are acting justly and loving mercy and walking humbly before our God (Micah 6:8). The fact is that many work with little support and ability to give aid and assistance. Every one of us can do more, sacrifice more, and give more. A Lebanese friend in Beirut with little resources wrote me one day after Israel began bombing Lebanon and said

“Air-raids started again as early as 3:00 am targeting the Beirut International Airport and the southern suburb of Beirut. This went on and off all day today. The artillery and bombs being used are horrendous. May God have mercy! Families are being displaced from the heavily targeted areas seeking shelter in school buildings. Effective early this afternoon, our Beirut Baptist School opened its doors offering temporary shelter to 200 Muslim people (around 30 families) from southern Lebanon. Upon arrival we offered them food and drink; yet we have no notion of how temporary will this situation be. We live each day at a time and trust God for his intervention.”

Reminder # 3 - Be an instrument of peace: Go to an oppressed and controversial region and offer assistance, love, and relationship - Whatever it takes and whatever you have to do, there are multiple ways to enter into hostile areas and bring aid, love, and assistance. I was just in a Hertz rental car ten days ago and drove from Jerusalem to the west Bank (Palestinian area) and was stopped at a few check points and showed my passport and was allowed to drive on. We were met by some Christians who showed us the birth place of Jesus in Bethlehem and took us back to their store they owned. They shared without bitterness or anger of the 26 foot concrete wall the Israelis had built to keep them from leaving Bethlehem. Oder was a young, articulate Palestinian Christian tour guide who could not even get to Jerusalem to do tours because he could not get a permit. He shared that the Christian population in the Bethlehem had decreased from 80,000 to 20,000 in just about 7 years but he had no plans to leave.

...There are other regions filled with conflict that I will advocate you to creatively engage and enter into like Iran, North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. What if you and your circle of influence could organize a way to raise $10,000 and go give aid, love, and encouragement to the Palestians who are suffering? Figure out how to distribute food in North Korea? Is it possible? Sure it is.

Just one month ago, the United Nations released this statement, “Though gravely under-funded, UN agency is set to feed 120,000 more Palestinians Facing “an escalating humanitarian crisis” in the occupied Palestinian territory due to the non-payment of 150,000 government employees and more frequent Israeli crossing closures, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that it will increase the number of non-refugees it feeds by 25 percent, from 480,000 to 600,000. We are seeing increasing numbers of impoverished people whose means of survival are being pushed to the limit." WFP Country Director Arnold Vercken warned. “We are in a race against time to reach the most vulnerable with food aid and avoid an escalation of this crisis." No matter what your political opinion is on the issue, the fact is that Israel has stopped the transfer of Palestinian value added taxes (VAT) and customs taxes and innocent people are suffering. This comprises around 50 per cent of the Palestinian Authority budget. Other countries have also suspended contributions to the PA. The 150,000 employees on its payroll support 1 million people, or more than 25 per cent of the population. “...We are also very concerned about the growing numbers of people, often children, rummaging through garbage cans,” Mr. Vercken said. I recognize the reality and need for Israel to protect herself and that will be debated on to what degree they should. However, the reality and opportunity before us as the church to respond and act is present.

In southern Thailand, where I currently reside with my family and other people in the ServLife community, we have launched a loan program. We have given loans to the Muslim community.to start fish farms who are poor and marginalized. Relationships have been created between Thai Christians and Thai Muslims as a result. Trust has been established and dialogue has been birthed and peace is a result. The opportunities are endless to care, love, and bring peace to millions in the world.

Reminder #4: Peace will come when we preach the Gospel--

The gospel of Jesus Christ is what people need to experience and embrace. The love of God will flow into the heart of anyone who responds to the gospel of Christ(Rom 8:39). The love of God will transform the heart of man and give them the power to love and forgive their enemies (Matt 5:43). How will people know and believe unless they are told? How will they be told unless we are sent? (Rom 10:15). As we live the gospel, we must also preach the gospel in love, humility, brokenness, and clarity.

Preach the gospel where Christ is not known (Rom 15:20). Be eager to preach the gospel (Rom 1:15); Do not be ashamed of the gospel because it the power of God for the salvation of everyone (Rom 1:16) The righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel (Rom 1:17) Offer the gospel free of charge (1 Cor 1:19) Pray that those who are blinded to the gospel will have their veils lifted from their eyes (2 Cor 4:3). Do not preach about yourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. (2 Cor 4:4) Be prepared in season and out of season to preach the gospel (2 Tim 4:2).

A movement is needed. It can start with you!
Stay Led!

Joel Vestal

27 Comments:

Blogger GrovesFan said...

WOW! What a letter. I will be praying and I'll be passing this on to our Ladie's Bible study group today to add prayer warriors and action-takers.

Beth

7/19/2006  
Blogger Thomas said...

Thank you for sharing this letter with us. It is nice to know what to pray for in the middle east.

Thomas

7/19/2006  
Anonymous maxwedge said...

I'm sorry, but I have a real hard time finding much sympathy for the Palestinians. Call me cruel, unChristian, whatever. The 26 foot wall was not to keep the people in Bethlehem, but to keep suicide bombers out of Israel. The Palestinians keep hitching their wagon to worser and worser leaders. Arafat was a thief and a murderer and after he became room temperature, they had free elections. What did they choose? HEZBOLLAH... yup. One of the worst terrorist organizations in the world to lead them (they make the IRA look like Boy Scouts helping old ladies across the road). They tossed the moderates overboard that were willing to work with the Israelis for the guys that perfected the car bomb. (remember the Marine Barracks in the early 80's? After they blew up the building, they harassed the rescuers with sniper fire) While the billions in aid (from mainly the US) were used to buy arms for terrorists and line the pockets of the PNA. Arafat was one of the richest men in the middle east. In 2003, Forbes magazine estimated Mr Arafat was worth $300m, maybe more if they can get to all those Swiss bank accounts. Yet his country was the poorest in the region. His widow lives in a hotel in Paris, while his people were starved and misled into electing terrorists.

“We are in a race against time to reach the most vulnerable with food aid and avoid an escalation of this crisis." No matter what your political opinion is on the issue, the fact is that Israel has stopped the transfer of Palestinian value added taxes (VAT) and customs taxes and innocent people are suffering."

The Israelis have to look after themselves, they have reached out to the Palestinians many times, given them land etc... How were they rewarded? With car bombs, suicide bombers and kidnappings. Letting the PNA have money is feeding the beasts, not the people. They'll funnel it to the armed wing of Hezbollah and buy rockets to shoot at Haifa. I think of Israel as like the only black guy in a neighborhood of Klansmen and Nazis.... I hate to see the suffering, but the Palestinians have brought much of this upon themselves. I've seen footage of Hezbollah terrorists in Gaza using Red Crescent ambulances to attack an Israeli Military convoy. The Arab nations need to get involved. Not with the usual rhetoric of blaming the US and Israel, but reign in the killers and use their go-zillions of dollars in oil wealth to feed the Palestinians that they pretend to care so much about. It is my firm belief that Muslims cannot behave. Nearly every conflict in the world today is either drug related or involves Muslim extremism. Where is the voice of moderation coming from the mullahs and imams? All I hear is "America is Satan", blah blah, blah, Israel is killing innocent women and children, blah, blah, blah..... In the meantime shoooom there goes another rocket into Israel. How do they help their people? I guess being a dead martyr is better than being a live muslim.

What do we do as Christians, as Americans? I dunno... I can't just leave and go over and hand out bags of rice and dig water wells. Especially if they are going to kidnap me and seperate my lovely head from it's proper location. I can pray and donate money I guess. What do we do that's even remotely effective? I'll just sit here and scratch my head. If I figure it out I'll let ya know....

7/19/2006  
Anonymous Tzfat said...

While maxwedge seems to be confusing Hezbollah and Hamas (and maybe even Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority), the gist of his argument is quite sound.

Israel has been advocating a two-state solution with the Palestinians for years, but Arafat wasn't interested. He wanted Israel destroyed, and all the fighting filled his bank account with blood money. Hamas is similarly uninterested in even recognizing that Israel exists, much less coexisting with it.

What's happening in Bethlehem and to the Palestinian people is a tragedy, but they need to look to their own self-serving leaders, not Israel, as the culpable parties.

Joel Vestal is similarly misinformed -- the Israelis didn't start the "offensive" that Hezbollah is "fighting back" from. Israel retreated from Lebanon and things have been fairly quiet along the border area ever since. I should know -- I used to live about 15 miles from the border near Safed/Rosh Pina. Hezbollah snuck across and attacked the Israeli border patrol. Israeli retaliated.

It's hard in that Hezbollah, while part of the Lebanese government, isn't the whole government. They're just a very influential armed militia that's intertwined in Lebanese civic life.

What would the US do if a heavily armed militia from Canada stormed across the border, blew up a border patrol, and kidnapped our troops and were holding them hostage somewhere in downtown Toronto?

I always find it interesting when Americans pass judgment on the actions of Israel in regard to the Palestinians without realizing their own history of shunting aside entire populations. Anyone ever heard of the Indians?

The West Bank was won by Israel when it was attacked in 1967. They're now taking steps to give most of it back, providing Hamas meets certain conditions, like recognizing its existence. I'm still waiting for Texas to do the same with Mexico...

7/19/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

I am constantly reminded lately of God's soverignty. I'm doing a Bible study now called "Trusting God Even When Life Hurts" by Jerry Bridges. This weeks' study was titled "God's Rule Over the Nations." It was so very timely considering the events of the past week. Many things will remain a mystery to us humans in our finite minds. We simply are not capable of seeing the whole picture or comprehending God's soverign will for humanity. God's REVEALED will and His SOVERIGN will are different. They are not contradictory, just manifested differently. His revealed will is just that, known by all who seek it (and many who don't). His Soverign will on the other hand isn't often apparent and therefore extremely difficult to understand. The bottom line is that according to scripture, God is the orchestrator of ALL that goes on in His creation. While He is NOT the author of sin, He does use it for His glory and NOTHING happens without His foreknowledge, desire, or control. It's a hard thing to explain and even harder if not impossible to understand. It's this very mystery that requires us as Christians to COMPLETELY TRUST GOD FOR EVERYTHING; in all circumstances; whether we "get it" or not. It's easy to pray for our friends, family and allies, but God commands us to pray for ALL world leaders, regardless of their apparent evil and hatred toward God and us. If we are to be obedient, we don't have a choice. We must first and foremost learn to LOVE all humanity, regardless of their ethnicity, beliefs, religion, or regard for us. Until we do that, we can't accomplish much, if anything for God's kingdom here and now.

"Being a dead martyr is better than being a live muslim" is tragic at best. If they die as muslims, they remain lost to Christ forever. I would hope they'd hear THE TRUTH before they die and have a chance to respond. No guarentee that they will accept Christ as Lord and savior (God knows), but I can't knowingly do anything that would prevent them from hearing it.

To say that you can pray and donate money is certainly an option for us all in some way or another. As Americans (and "westerners" in general) we (ME TOO!) are so very comfortable in our land with all of our luxuries, that we tend to dismiss the power of prayer, as well as the command from God to come to Him in prayer as something that is cursory and not really effective. We frustrate our ability to bring glory to God when we do so. How sad in a nation that has had more opportunity to spread the gospel and affect world change than any other in history.

Unfolding events are "scary" and unsettling and it's easy to get caught up in the temporal situation. We must not be lazy and unmoved by what is happening, but neither do we need to be angered or bitter about what the nations are doing. God has a plan, He's carrying it out, and we need to be ready to be used by Him do whatever He calls us to do.

Beth

7/19/2006  
Anonymous maxwedge said...

Hmmmmm..... after reading everything I could find on the net about Servlife........ Methinks they seem like a good organization! I hope they get funded from the baz-illions of Drachmas, Kronur, Rupees and Aussie Dollars that the Peace Store will surely bring! I really liked the $100.00 to buy a library for a pastor in the field. That's cool and probably often overlooked! They seem to use indigenous people wisely and support them, not just swoop in, dig a well, pat the kids on the head, hand out a Swahili bible and sayanara.... I bet they all get malaria and thrown in jail and stuff.... It's just frustrating to read about the billions upon billions that get wasted funding potentates and tyrants that buy arms and Merces Benzes instead of rice. The UN is pretty much worthless. Hows about unfunding UNESCO and give the money to Servlife and Compassion Int'l??? Organizations like this would be far more effective than deploying a peacekeeping force that usually ends up running with it's tail between it's legs or sits and watches a massacre happen (remember Somalia? Rwanda?). Oh well... I guess I'll go play HALO2.... again.

7/19/2006  
Anonymous maxwedge said...

oops tzfat...

You're right, I keep getting those mixed up (Hamas and Hezbollah). All those islamo-hate groups are intertwined and backed by Iran and Syria anyway. Kind of like confusing the KKK with the Ayrian Brotherhood....

According to Wikipedia Hamas means: "enthusiasm, fire, ardor, fervor, zeal, fanaticism" in Arabic, in Hebrew it means: "violence, injustice, harsh wrong"... freaky huh?

7/19/2006  
Blogger euphrony said...

maxwedge,
If I were to apply your logic for not finding much sympathy for the Palestinians in this situation to the U.S.A, then I could say that each and every American who believes abortion to be murder is equally responsible for every abortion performed in the U.S., because we have not forced them to stop. The majority of Palestinians decided on Hamas for leadership, which is tragic but does not leave every person culpable for the actions of the majority. Similarly, in Lebanon you have a people who have been under the de facto rule of Syria and the influence of Hezbollah from within their own borders, both of whose armies would wipe the floor with the Lebanese national army. The effect is that there are many people who are stuck in a situation they do wish to be in and are associated with people with whom they vehemently disagree. In much the same way, we are saddled with the burden of not being able to do anything immediate to cease abortions. To further reduce their options, the minority in Lebanon and Palestine cannot "vote with their feet" as a lack of personal resources and rugged terrain (mountains, deserts) limit mobility.

I want to react by saying that they are reaping what they have sown. But, I do not want to reap what I have sown, so why should I wish it on them? I'm not trying to shoot you down, maxwedge, but make you think. The whole situation in the Middle East is enough to make anyone cry, and there is plenty of blame to be spread around to all parties. We, in the U.S.A., tend to blame the Israelis less, I think, because of our Christian heritage and the view that they are God's chosen people (I've talked about that recently in my blog). What can we do besides pray and seek out people to support like Servlife and individual churches in the region? If we can strengthen the Christian community, if we can preach and live peace rather than "speak softly and carry a big stick", then maybe over time the whole region can be influenced to know the peace of God and not the fire of hatred.

7/20/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

maxwedge, you're cruel and unChristian.

7/20/2006  
Anonymous maxwedge said...

"The majority of Palestinians decided on Hamas for leadership, which is tragic but does not leave every person culpable for the actions of the majority."

Not true, given a choice the overwhelming majority chose a hate group to lead them. This akin to the US electing a political wing of the Ku Klux Klan as our leadership. There is no shortage of suicide bombers, and when events like 9-1-1, Kobar towers, etc happen, the streets are filled with those gleeful at the deaths of those they see as animals (that wold be you and me and every Israeli man, woman and child). I do not view them as animals, but see them as highly misguided and dangerous. Letting them run unchecked only encourages them. Our peaceful efforts result in them thinking we are weak. Peace is not only the lack of violence, but the presence of justice. Islam is a dangerous and hate filled religion. (Ever hear an Arab say Allah loves you?) They openly preach hate and death. They kidnap, torture, behead and bomb. We, as Christians need to try and make peace and be examples, but not to the west's or Israel's extermination.

And as far as this:
"every American who believes abortion to be murder is equally responsible for every abortion performed in the U.S., because we have not forced them to stop."
This is true... but blowing up abortion clinics is not the way we do things in the west. We are a nation of laws. Taking that to the extreme and killing everyone that disagreed with me would be the seemingly accepted muslim way of doing things.

"..We, in the U.S.A., tend to blame the Israelis less, I think, because of our Christian heritage..."

No, I think it's because some can see past the media and Euro-UN view that Israel is a bully and see that exploding ones self in a pizzaria full of grandmothers and their grandchildren is oh... I dunno.... WRONG. Israel has every right to fight back. Israel has made every effort to reach out to them, giving up territory only to have the Palestinians crawfish on the deal. Pray for peace but prepare for war. Radical Islam is on the rise and unfortunately, the only thing they understand is a "big stick".

7/20/2006  
Blogger Jesse said...

"No, I think it's because some can see past the media and Euro-UN view that Israel is a bully and see that exploding ones self in a pizzaria full of grandmothers and their grandchildren is oh... I dunno.... WRONG. Israel has every right to fight back."

There is a major difference between self defence, and devastating a country. What Israel is doing is going WAY beyond self defense, and if it goes on much longer even the US will ask them to knock it back a notch. I mean, blockading the entire country, bombing the airport and bridges - is that really self defense? If they really want to take out Hezbollah, help stengthen the Lebanese army, and join with the government to get rid of Hezbollah!

No one will say that the suicide bombers are right or just, not one european, amercian or canadian! However, violence only leads to violence - a big stick with do nothing to make Israel more safe, it will only push other moderate Muslims to fall victim to evil Imans who will use them to continue the cycle of violence.

It breaks my heart to see what's going on there.

7/20/2006  
Anonymous maxwedge said...

"There is a major difference between self defence, and devastating a country. What Israel is doing is going WAY beyond self defense"

Hardly! Israel is using a tried and true tactic of denying the enemy a place to operate from and stop its logistics (setting up Kassim rockets, infiltrating, smuggling arms in from Syria). If Israel were going way beyond, they would be carpet bombing whole neighborhoods. That would be wrong. They have hit legitimate targets. It's the Hezbollah and Hamas groups that hide and surround themselves with women and children so they have litle broken bodies to display to the media.

"violence only leads to violence - a big stick with do nothing to make Israel more safe, it will only push other moderate Muslims to fall victim to evil Imans who will use them to continue the cycle of violence."

Where is the voice of the moderate muslim? Name one, give me a website. I never hear them.... I do see the fruits of their religion in the death they deal on their neighbors. I see them hitting Israeli soldiers and running away in UN and Red Crescent ambulances. In the meantime Israelis die. Israel has every right to defend itself, even taking it to the source, Iran.

It is tragic, I do not want to see people suffer, but the world is a cruel place.

7/20/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

There are many serious drawback to on-line conversation. So many that I often consider disabling the comments on this blog and pulling the plug on my message board. I'm considering that more and more these - which is bad timing, since instead of building a new website that features LESS conversation I'm building one built around MORE of it.

One frustration I have is the tone of conversation here at times. Conversations, only when discussing politics, often degrade into smart-assed rants, hurtful comments, curt disses, and general belligerence. I won't give examples for fear of singling any person or persons out. I just want to remind us all that while we may have different positions and theologies to represent we should be unified by the kindness of our words to each other. A conversation here should not be modeled after an episode of cross-fire. We have a better model - the meekness of Christ. Our methodology should not be rude or short.

Now I know very well that perception often isn't reality, that a reader can misunderstand what a writer intends. So I admit that I may be reading something that's not intended and that doesn't bug anyone else. But if I'm reading right I think we should all - me included - take a breath and begin to do everything we can to limit the probability that someone will take our words the wrong way. In other words, if it MIGHT be taken as rude or unkind or harsh we should edit or delete to minimize the potential for misunderstanding.

We represent Christ always. Even on the internet. Even when writing under a fake name. So be careful HOW you say things to each other. If comments here harm the image of Christ and Christians I'll disable them.

On the new site I won't have to. I'll be able to block the ISP of unruly commentors. Until then, sorry for the occasional public lecture.

SG

7/20/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Thanks for reigning things in Shaun. This is obviously a very hot and emotional topic for several reasons. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it's hard to see comments for that at times. Also be careful not to lump all persons who may be part of a group into one mindset or belief system. Not ALL Muslims are violent or believe that those who practice the violence are right or even following Allah. That would be the same thing as saying that all Christians think it's OK to blow up abortion clinics or that all whites think the KKK is right on the mark. We need to remember that above all, God is in control and we need to pray for EVERYONE.

Beth

7/20/2006  
Blogger Amy said...

good words Shaun.

I hope you keep the community alive. I think it's far more beneficial than harmful. Sort of like the internet in general.

7/20/2006  
Blogger euphrony said...

Hope I have not been offending anyone. I do try to write in concise, clear language so that a few brief words do not convey the wrong message. I've done the unintentional offense before, and I try to do a ton of editing to make sure I do not go there again. Shaun, keep your finger on "the button" to digitally nuke destructive comments so that the discussion may continue.

7/20/2006  
Blogger Thomas said...

Shaun, I do understand why you would want to limited the tone and course of conversations like this. The thing is I have learned a lot about the subject being discussed here , but I also learned stuff about myself. It is easy to quiet the conversation that you do not agree with, but it takes a lot of strength to allow the person you most disagree with to shout and scream at the top of his or her lungs. Just maybe this persons or persons will mellow his or her position or someone else might learn something and change their position.

Now back to the subject matter being discussed. There is no easy answers here. All I know it takes two people to agree to live in peace. I also believe that there will be the constant blood shed and death in this region until Christ returns to set up His kingdom. I know in my heart that I must support those who are sharing the truth about Christ in this region. I just hope that we all do not get discouraged and walk away from all of this.


Thank you Shaun for bringing this subject up.

Thomas

7/20/2006  
Anonymous maxwedge said...

But what is to be done when one group refuses peace time and again? When that group breaks every treaty it agrees to? That group's goal is to wipe the other group off the map?

****************
From Hamas' own charter:
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

"The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. "

"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."
************************

What do we do as Christians when this is in the charter of one of the groups?? I believe we should stand with Israel, and let her defend her homeland. Am I offensive? Or is it the subject? This is Eskimo Pie. Black and white. Hamas and Hezbollah, or Israel. Measured response? That's been tried and it only escalated and gave time to rearm. I don't come to my beliefs easily. I don't hate, but really do love them. But how much is Israel to take? Try reading the Jerusalem Post and other papers from inside Israel. Again, Peace is not only the lack of violence, but the presence of justice. And true justice will appear only when Jesus returns.

7/20/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

I believe we should stand with Israel, and let her defend her homeland.

What specifically does it mean to 'stand with Israel?' What actions are you suggesting Christians take and/or not take as part of their standing with Israel?

And how do you define "justice?" You have stated that peace is the presence of justice but that's a slippery word with both Christian definitions and non. What's yours?

7/21/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

ANother thought. I agree with women who say men focus on fixing things and if they can't fix, well, they quit or move on to something they can fix. Women complain about men not listening and JUST listening when they want them to but instead listening only to fix the problem.

I have a similar frustration with male Christians - in general - who approach this idea of peace with what appears to be the mindset "It won't work to feed my enemy and build him schools and house him and tell him about Jesus. So why bother?" In other words, we can't fix this problem of war, we'll always have war and some people will never play nice no matter what we do, so screw 'em.

But in doing nothing we're actually "screwing" up the gospel and recrucifying Christ. It's been hard as a man to reprogram my thinking - or have my thinking reprogrammed - over the last several years when it comes to this issue. It's been strange to pursue an end I know I'll never reach. It's counterintuitive to love those who will never love me, for instance, to feed people who are ungrateful. But I don't do this to be a successful changer of all things, to fix everything that's broken - though much of what is broken will be fixed by pursuing peace. I do this because a Christian imitates Christ as Christ imitates Father God. And Christ loved the whole world enough to die for us all, and draws all men to Himself, and wishes non of them would "perish" BUT many do because they do not believe and follow Christ - after all He sacrificed for them. Jesus healed lepers who never thanked him, mutes who may have yelled "crucify him" and cripples who no doubt walked away from Him. Why should we as His imitators be any different?

And Jesus died at the hands of enemies He forgave and died to save. Why should we be any different?

7/21/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

AMEN!!

Beth

7/21/2006  
Blogger Seth Ward said...

I tried to read the incredibly complicated history of Israel and Palestine the other day only to come out on the other end more confused. We always look for easy answers in war and there are none. There never will be when it comes to this region. Things are not that black and white. Is the answer "well all those Muslims just hate the Jews so lets kill all the hate-filled Muslims.”? Not that easy. You seek to kill an Ideology. Where does that start and stop. Militant groups? Schools? Households? It is infinitely more difficult than punishing murderers and rapists or even militaries led by fascist dictators. We think as naive Americans that "oh if we can just give them democracy, stamp out the mean Muslims, then...problem solved." Tell that to the newly ELECTED Iraqi leader who just condemned our government's unconditional love for Israel. It just about stunned every single Bush cabinet member all the way up to W.

If you kill the whole army today there would be thousands more who are simple school-boys and girls sitting at the feet of their fathers telling them stories about how Israel belongs to them and the rest of the world are infidels.

We also should make a distinction here between militant Islam and Moderate Muslims. I have been reading some blanket statements here about all Muslims and not all of them want war even if they aren't passing out tracts about how Allah loves everyone.

I think the hardest thing for me to except here lately is that I DON'T have the answers.

It is VERY hard to "pursue an end I know I'll never reach." But I am pretty sure that's where I have to start.

7/21/2006  
Anonymous maxwedge said...

"What specifically does it mean to 'stand with Israel?' What actions are you suggesting Christians take and/or not take as part of their standing with Israel?"

Well for one not make them to be the bully in this. Peace would be easy. If the Palestinians (Hamas) and Hezbollah would stop kidnapping, car and suicide bombing ans shooting rockets into Israel, that would be a good start. The Israelis have tried to give the Palestinians an autonomous state. They gave them land and allowed them to have a taxing authoriy. The short peace was used to rearm and refit. The money that should have been used for infrastructure and to create wealth for the Palestinians went into corrupt dictatorial hands or to purchase weapons. Not only as Christians, but just using the guage of right and wrong, (black-white, eskimo pie) look at how Hamas and Hezbollah do business. They blow up wedding parties, buses and ice cream parlors. Israel hits a field where a rocket launching pad was set up. That was a warning that had to be ratcheted up. They began to destroy the infrastructure of what they consider an enemy. Israel is the bad guy. Israel dropped leaflets the other day telling Palestinians to get out of the way and to not harbor or store weapons for Hamas. It's in the Jerusalem post, I guess I missed it on CNN and ABC.

"We always look for easy answers in war and there are none."

A legitimate army seeking to fight agression against its nation from an outside entity who uses terror, murder and kidnapping as its modus operandi is a bit complicated. What would you suggest doing? Many avenues of peace have been tried only for one side (that would be the Palestinians) to use peace to buy time to rearm. Arafat won a Nobel prize for a treaty he later broke (Oslo).

"And how do you define "justice?" You have stated that peace is the presence of justice but that's a slippery word with both Christian definitions and non. What's yours?"

Sharia law is not Justice that's for sure. Because tanks are not rolling in the streets and bombs not dropping mean there is peace. North Korea is not what I'd call a peaceful nation. Is there justice in N Korea? Justice is having the freedom to be, do, and say what you are and what you believe. Women get beaten in some Islamic countries if their hair shows from under their head scarf.

"If you kill the whole army today there would be thousands more who are simple school-boys and girls sitting at the feet of their fathers telling them stories about how Israel belongs to them and the rest of the world are infidels."

Is this true? Then there should be people in France seething to return to Napoleonic rule and Germany would be trying to establish the fourth Reich, and the South shall rise again.

http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

Like I said, I do not hear many moderate Islamic voices. I hear death to Israel, the west and America, I see car bombs and beheadings. I see a bus full of about 30 college students on their way to take their final exams being abducted and shot in the head. Where are their leaders? Who will step forward from their camp to make peace? Peace is only accomplished through both parties cooperating. Who on their side will extend a hand? As Christians we should be willing to take that hand. But.....

7/21/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Maxwedge, you didn't answer a single one of my questions. You responded but you didn't answer.

What does it mean specifically to "stand with Israel?" - not what does it NOT mean.

AND

How is justice defined?

7/22/2006  
Blogger Thomas said...

Maybe it is time for us Christians to stop talking about this and start to build hospitals, schools, shelters, and food banks, such as Hezbolla, did in southern Lebanon. Could this simple act of love change the direction of Lebanon? If the people in Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, and rest of the world can see a group of people demonstrating God’s love for them and everyone else by providing these basic services, just maybe one or more people will turn from their hate and anger. This could mean one less suicide bomber or terrorist.

I wish that I knew the complete answer to this problem. However, I do not. All I know is that sitting along the sidelines is no longer acceptable.

Thomas

7/22/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Maybe it is time for us Christians to stop talking about this and start to build hospitals, schools, shelters, and food banks, such as Hezbolla, did in southern Lebanon.

We are. That's just part of what folks like Joel Vestal and many others are doing.

This post in fact has less to do with asking you guys or me what can be done and more to do with raising awareness about what IS being done and asking us all to join that work in progress by giving, going and praying.

Glad you're not content sitting and watching, Thomas. Good to hear.

7/22/2006  
Blogger Amy said...

I looked up peace in the dictionary and it said something like the absence of violence. It was an unsatisfying definition. ok, here's the thing. I think peace could probably be acheived through Sharia law. it could be acheived through dictatorships. etc. that's why peace as an answer alone often seems unsatisfying. no violence, but no joy. :-)
Seeking peace is not the answer, love is. Valuing another person's best interest over your own. Including your enemy. Whatever that means. I think in this case it means laying down whatever political rights we think we have and joining with those doing work around the world in devestated areas up to and including being willing to be in-the-flesh amabassadors for the Lord. It means loving both the Lebanese and the Israelis. Not assigning blame (who can understand it anyway) and being Christ to everyone.
Privately perhaps, we can have our opinions on who is right or wrong. Publicaly, however, in Christ there is no Lebanese or Israeli.

7/22/2006  

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