A Star in Bethlehem

27 Jan

Shalom y’all and Mar Haba,

This update might be of a slightly different flavor. We have a few recent experiences to share with you. They are kind of miracles and it is worthwhile to consider what they might mean (rather than us trying to interpret them).

Some thoughts on peace apart from politics:

Joy and I led worship at a conference in Jerusalem that was attended by Internationals,
some Arab and some Israeli believers. Reread that last sentence and please allow it to fully sink in. Only in certain local worship gatherings you will spy Abraham’s children facing the same direction (upwards) in unity and love, even though there will likely be some significant political differences in how they view the region.

We recently met and have been getting to know a Palestinian Pastor and his family in Bethlehem. They are remarkable people and have an uncommon degree of spiritual passion. They receive a one month pass each year to travel outside of the territories and we were honored that The House of Peace was the first place they came to visit. The following week, we went to their home and ministry (The House of Bread) and continued to deepen our connection getting to know each other and pray for each other.

We have an Israeli friend, Adam, who is a believer. Like everyone of a certain age, he did his time in the military and still does his work as a reservist. He is 30 and has 4 children, a four-year-old son, a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and two year old twin girls. He recently shared with me one of his most powerful life memories–when a former Fatah soldier, now also a Christian, who, while holding Adam’s newborn son, passionately prayed over the young child with much love…

Our eyes are scanning/straining to see what God is doing here and how we can partake in this, and if you are observant, it isn’t very hard. We want to acknowledge the light that may be dim at this point, but you can clearly see it. You probably won’t see it or read about it in the news because peace without conflict doesn’t make good copy. Outside the Kingdom, peace is more attractive as an unattainable ideal state.

All of this has us thinking about the contrast between the Kingdom of God and your government of choice. Voting is a privilege and democracy is a gift, but whatever our responsibility as believers in this area, our primary responsibility is to pray. It is easier to place our confidence in (or to curse) a governing power than to wrestle with our apathy or anguish in prayer. Participating in politics and having strong convictions doesn’t change that we are believers first and Americans second and contrary to popular sentiment these two things are not necessarily synonymous. Social justice is integral to the character of the Gospel, but not at the expense of pursuing it Jesus’ way.

And returning to our usual update format:

The Recording Studio.
The last time I wrote we had found our location and had received the finances to purchase the equipment and begin remodeling. This space was for rent and possibly for sale. Because of the need to do close to $70 grand in renovations, it was determined by the financier that buying the space was a necessity. Long term this will provide a greater security for this particular ministry. Short-term it is honestly frustrating, as we have all of the equipment here and no place to set up shop. Purchasing is typically a longer process than renting. The good news is that this project is fully funded, so it is a waiting game until the purchase process is completed. Pray that this happens without unnecessary complications and with straight-ahead negotiations.

Moments of Provision.
God met us financially last month in a way I hadn’t previously experienced. We are grateful for the gifts that came from people that we know and have relationship with. We were shocked when someone we had never met gave (and doesn’t receive this email) gave us $1000. This takes care of our first semester of Hebrew and more. As I have previously said, we endeavor to be self supporting and believe that “tent making” is how God wants us to do our work here. We welcome practical gifts, but continue with us in prayer as we continue to get situated .

Friends from Afar.
Joy’s sister Alysa has come to visit us and our friend Kristen from Austin. We miss our stateside framily often and thank-you for your emails, phone-calls (global 501.) and visits. Please come visit. Come and see what God is doing here and be a part of that in whatever ways you can.

With much love,
Peter and Joy

Joy’s Parent’s with us at Bethlehem for Christmas Eve!

Visiting with our new friends in Bethlehem.

Peter with Bashir and Fadi – in Bethlehem. Please say a quick prayer for these two as they are away studying. Bashir is getting his masters in human rights and political science and Fadi is getting his doctorate at a Seminary in the States.

(sunlight through the window) Church of the Nativity – Bethlehem.

Peter standing in front of the wall that separates Bethlehem (and other Palestinian territories) from Israel.

Graffiti on the wall.

Large murals that are painted on the walls, directly next to the check point.

“Know Hope” is an American born Israeli street artist. His art is beautiful and deeply provocative. As an Israeli, he is not permitted in the territories, but it seems he’s been to Bethlehem. Take a moment to check out his work, it’s worth your time: Know Hope Street Art

Raphaela – a nun that was hitchhiking from Bethlehem to the Mount of Olives. We picked her up outside of Bethlehem. She has been working in Israel for 47 years. Has seen every war (or so she said) I believe her since she’s from Poland, and she’s a nun. She runs an orphanage at the Mount of Olives and makes frequent trips to Bethlehem to help an orphanage there. She was a beautiful soul and we enjoyed taking her home to her convent on a cold Shabbat night.

Alysa and Kristen, visiting from Austin, with Joy outside of Succat Hallel.

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