Brother or Enemy?
This is from the book Light Force by Brother Andrew
Salim Munayer was an energetic and enthusiastic man; fluent in Hebrew, Arabic and English. A Palestinian who taught both Palestinian and Israeli university students with the amazing ability to move among Muslims and Jews as well a Christians. With the help of Brother Andrew and Open Doors, Salim was able to get funding for a project to take groups of Palestinian and Israeli Christian leaders on a wilderness camping and bonding trips. He called the project Musalaha – an Arabic word meaning ‘forgiveness and reconciliation’.
Yitzhak couldn’t’ help it. He had been taught to hate Arabs. To him, the only good Arab was a dead Arab. And yet, here he was sitting on rugs inside a Bedouin tent with fellow Jews and Arabs, all because his wire’s gentle insistence that as a Messianic believer in Yeshua, he needed to meet believers from the other side. ‘This is ridiculous!’ he had exploded when she had first proposed that they participate in this desert encounter. ‘Arabs are not people you can trust.’
In another small group on the opposite side of the tent, Wa’el questioned why he needed to participate in this meeting with Messianic Jews. If they are believers in Christ,’ the Palestinian convert from Islam had told his friend, Salim Munaryer, ‘then we don’t need reconciliation. We are already reconciled.’ But he knew that this theological truth didn’t correlate with the realities of daily life on the West Bank. It bothered him that Jews, believers or otherwise, insisted on laying historic claim to the land where he lived, devouring the rights of Palestinians who had lived in this land for hundreds of years…
Yitzhak and Wa’el were assigned to share a camel for three day journey to King Solomon’s copper mines. On the second day the began to share their stories. Wa’el had grown up in a refugee camp in West Bank, at one time his home had been damaged when a neighbours house was blown up by Israelis. His families were Muslims, but not devout. After his mother died, he rejected God and began reading philosophy. He decided there was a God but didn’t know what God was like. He learned about Christianity from reading the Encyclopedia; then began doing correspondence Bible studies before giving his life to Jesus.
As they talked, Yitzhak found he had more in common with Wa’el than he did with Jews who had come from America. His family had migrated from North Africa, they were traditional Jews but after his compulsory three years in the army he also had rejected God. He came to know Jesus after a friend gave him a Bible.
On the last day they gathered together to share the Passover. Yitzhak too was impacted as Evan read the words of Paul: ‘For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier,
the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, this making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.’
When called to come forward and serve communion to another, Wa’el and Yitzhak were the first to step forward to serve each other.
Two years later…
The hatred could return. Yitzhak realised that as he watched the news of the latest suicide bombing attack. ‘It was easy when were out in the desert with Musalaha. Nobody was watching us, and we cold say we loved each other, but now we’re back to reality.
…The phone rang. Yitzhak heard the familiar voice of Wa’el on the other end. ‘I just saw the news and I wanted to know if you are okay.’ Immediately Yitzhak felt ashamed for entertaining his old hatred. After the call, Yitzhak admitted to his wife, ‘Wa’el reminds me that we have to show the real gospel. We are saved by the blood of the new covenant, which means we are saved to be a light to the world. And you cannot be a light to the world if you stand for one people and you’re not also standing for the other.’
A few weeks later, Yitzhak passed through the Bethlehem checkpoint to visit Wa’el’s church. A room in that church was being renovated for use a children’ centre… During lunch, Wa’el admitted he was thinking of leaving the country. ‘This has been so hard. There is nothing here but frustration. I just want to leave because the situation here is too difficult. But… I don’t know where I would go, where I would fit.’ Wa’el looked soberly at his friend, not knowing what to say. ‘I hope you don’t leave; I know it’s hard, but maybe in a small way we’re making a difference. Maybe we can show those around us that there is a better way than fighting.