Love Your Enemies
This is from the book Light Force by Brother Andrew:
What he saw among the boys at Hope School disturbed him deeply. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians was leaving scars on these children. Many had lost one or both parents. Others had been separated from their parents during the confusion of the ’67 war and didn’t even know if they were dead or alive. Many of the teenagers wet their beds at night. Both the boarders and day students displayed anger and violent behaviour.
As principal, Bishara tried to impart to these troubled kids the messages his mother had often preached – to love God, love your neighbours, and love your enemies. These boys weren’t responding. They would sit in chapel sessions and listen to Bishara’s messages, but none had turned their own hearts to God. He could see their hatred on the playground as they role-played revenge against Jewish soldiers.
‘Why, Lord?’ Bishara prayed out loud. ‘Why are there no results? Why would You bring me back to my homeland and not use me?’
The silence seemed to accuse him.
He walked the halls, past the room where the boys slept. Many of them tossed and turned fitfully, groaning or talking in their sleep. He wondered about their dreams, which no doubt reflected their private pains. Each of them had experienced harassment from Israeli soldiers. It wasn’t unusual for the kids to be ordered to empty their schoolbags, have their books thrown on the ground, and then be ordered to pick them up. Feeling humiliated and powerless to do anything effectively, many students had thrown stones at the soldiers and carried their defiance of authority over to the teachers at the school.
Bishara walked out the back door of the school building and stood under the night sky. A near-full moon illuminated Elah Valley below. This was the location where, according to many Bible experts, David fought and defeated Goliath. In his mind Bishara could almost see the armies – the Philistines camped on the western hill, the Israelites on the east – and the nine foot giant advancing to taunt the troops under King Saul’s command. An he could see little David boldly confronting him.
Unfortunately, Bishara realised he was on the wrong side. As he ‘heard’ the taunts of the giant, he recognised his own voice. The Philistine verbalised the emotions he repressed for so long. Hatred welled up in him as Goliath cursed the Jews. Bishara blamed the Israelis for the death of his father and the loss of his home in 1948. He blamed them for the twelve years he’d lived in an orphanage, separated from his mother. He blamed them for the years of exile in the United States. For so long the hatred had festered, mostly his consciousness. Now he recognised that same hatred in the boys under his care. It was destroying them, and he was powerless to help them unless he their principal, conquered his own anger and bitterness.
Tears welled up in his eyes. How could he, a man who had given his life to Jesus Christ a dozen years before, who was committed to be an instrument of God in the Holy Land, help these angry young boys? There was only one answer. His voice broke the silence of the night: ‘Lord, I beg You. Forgive me for hating the Jews and for allowing that hatred to control my life.’
With every ounce of his being, Bishara meant that prayer. Looking again over the valley, he could imagine the brave shepherd David charging Goliath, swinging the slingshot, and toppling the giant with a single, well-aimed stone. It almost seemed too easy as he felt the giant of hatred fall before him. He sensed God’s presence enveloping him, and the frustration, hopelessness, and hatred were washed away, replaced with love.
When Brother Andrew met Bishara, Bishara presented him with the idea of creating Bethlehem Bible College – a place to train the future leaders of the Christian church. With the help of Open Doors, the Bethlehem Bible College became a reality.